The Current State of Our Industry Is…Nuts.

From Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association executive director and CEO, Jeannie Shaughnessy
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:00 AM AKDT

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Nuts define real Americana. At the ballpark. On a picnic or a hike. In holiday recipes and cafeteria lunches. As the original, and increasingly popular, plant-based protein, nuts are nutrient-dense, shelf-stable and ready-to-eat. Even though nuts are among the most delicious – and equally nutritious – foods, the nut industry is an industry on the edge.

Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association Logo (PRNewsfoto/Peanut and Tree Nut Processors...
Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association Logo (PRNewsfoto/Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association)

I proudly represent the multifaceted nut industry. Our industry includes the diverse owners, operators, and millions of employees who bring remarkable nut products to the world's burgeoning food supply. We import and export. Domestic and worldwide demand continues to significantly increase – and we are trying to deliver.

Unfortunately, the industry is in crisis mode. With an absurdly volatile market, simply delivering product from the farm fields to consumers – domestic and international – is a challenge. Fractured infrastructure, unpredictable costs, unreliable supply chain and rising inflationary pressures should be causing panic for regulators, governing bodies and those who represent and fight for American businesses.

This turbulence is driven by unpredictable events that private business alone can't solve. Droughts, water, weather. The global pandemic. Chronic worker shortages. Container confusion. Jammed ports. Truck driver shortages. Storage facilities at maximum capacity. Concerned bankers. Ships skipping port pick-ups. All of these elements have rapidly, exponentially and unpredictably increasing costs attached.

Policymakers have avoided addressing the escalating challenges facing our fragile food chain – and often pushed aside the calls for action from food and agriculture communities – at the federal, state and municipal levels. The companies in our industry need relief and results that allow them to continue operating.

Consumers are increasingly aware of and concerned by food and agriculture issues. Those same consumers will be paying more for food items as these collective realities have a cascading impact – limited product availability and higher prices.

Hoping that you'll have favorite nuts for holiday meals and gifts? It may already be too late. One nut company, for example, is currently holding 100 containers of nuts (twice the number since the January – August timeframe), because they simply cannot move these products out of US ports. The same challenge holds true for imported nut commodities entering the states. Why? Virtually all shipments, stuck in jammed ports on both coasts, face months of delay without relief in sight. These products will not leave ports in time to be on shelves for the holidays. And the business bottom line: this same company will have lost revenue of more than $15 million in just one month.

We are an incredibly viable, vibrant and exciting industry. But endlessly dragging millions or billions of dollars in commodity inventory, unexpected excessive costs plus uncertainty is simply not a viable long-term option for most businesses.

Your voices are needed to ensure the availability of nuts at your regular grocery store or online. The entire food and agriculture industry is counting on consumers like you to put pressure on those who can enact solutions. The businesses struggling through this calamity are the very people you rely on to feed you each day.

Advocate for immediate policy changes. The White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) have had limited impact to date. The world's food chain becomes more precarious by the day and requires a commitment that goes beyond empty words. Small and large companies alike are facing overwhelming and paralyzing situations that need to be fixed – immediately.

Call your congressional representatives. Write a letter of concern. Demand that the recent FMC ocean carrier audit be used to hold those responsible to account. Get on the field and help us play ball.

Recapping these current "pain points" is distressing. Yet the nut industry is filled with multi-generational go-getters, visionary innovators, and resilient leaders. All are committed to an industry – and to the people – that they love. But they need the proactive support of lawmakers, influencers and consumers to demand strong and decisive action to get (and keep) products moving – now.

Consumers, constituents and fellow nut lovers, these very real circumstances will impact all of us. We all know that price increases are soon going to be passed on to us, and there's a very natural fear of dealing with an unstable food supply.

I look forward to – and hope to soon see – solid systems, vibrant businesses, inspired workforces, smooth commerce and product flow return to the boring way it used to be. Ultimately, I want our nut industry to be able to continue to predictably, methodically and reliably provide safe, nutritious food to consumers across the globe.

Call me nuts.

About the Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association
The Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association (PTNPA), established in 1939, is comprised of leading nut industry companies and representatives, ranging from international household brands to fourth-generation family-owned businesses. The organization exists to advance the nut industry through professional networks, advocacy, and education for and on behalf of its members. www.PTNPA.org

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SOURCE Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association

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