To consumers, flavour and enjoyment are probably the most important factors in deciding whether to buy a product again. Of course, price is important – but no one is going to buy a peanut product again if they had a bad experience of an ‘off’ or rancid taste, no matter how cheap! For the U.S. peanut industry, the flavour of the peanut is of paramount importance.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has conducted studies on peanuts grown in the U.S., China and Argentina, using both trained flavour specialists and taste panels. All consumers in the panels could tell the difference between peanuts with good or off flavours. The most important flavour criteria for peanuts – the ‘peanutty’ flavour is highest and most consistent with U.S. origin peanuts.
From the very start, the oil chemistry of peanuts has the greatest impact on their shelf life potential. The fatty acid composition of peanuts changes throughout their growing cycle as they become more mature. The ratio of oleic to linoleic acids determines the shelf life of peanuts, with a higher oleic/linoleic ratio giving a longer shelf life. Origin comparison studies have shown U.S. peanuts have the highest oleic/linoleic ratio, Argentine peanuts less, and Chinese peanuts the lowest oleic/linoleic ratio. The high oleic acid ratio of peanuts in the USA gives them a longer shelf life. Many of the peanuts now being produced in the U.S. were naturally bred for their enhanced high oleic content traits to give a longer shelf life.
According to a 2015 Erickson Research poll, 96 per cent of Canadian households eat peanut butter at least every few months, and 95% eat peanuts at least every few months.