Recently we were engaged by several interested buyers who wanted deliveries that included a couple of buckets of peeled and unpeeled peanuts. What were supposed to be routine orders quickly turned into complications as we could not find enough peanuts to fulfil the orders at the usual price. Generally, you can expect to spend about US$28-US$34 for a bucket of peeled peanuts and US$10-US$12 for a bucket of unpeeled peanuts. This time around suppliers were asking for around US$40 per bucket for peeled peanuts and no matter how much we tried we couldn’t locate unpeeled peanuts at all.
An extensive search of Mbare suppliers and sellers has revealed that there is a massive shortage of peanuts in the market. It seems most farmers are not selling either with some saying they were now keeping whatever they had for their own consumption and seed. The result has been that prices have gone up significantly. Where retailers used to sell US$ 1 for three cups you should consider yourself lucky if someone is willing to sell you two cups for US$1. As already said most sellers are now asking for US$40 per bucket. Large peanut variants that most buyers seem to prefer are also missing from the market with only smaller less desirable variants available and even these are being snapped up by peanut butter makers who are also found in suburbs around Mbare Musika.
Naturally, the shortage of peanuts has impacted the business of peanut butter makers heavily. Most peanut butter makers have had to scale down operations a bit as they hunt for elusive supplies. Prices of peanut butter have also gone up as a result of the peanut shortage. Now cases of peanut butter are going for as much as US$12.50 for a case of 12 small (375 ml) bottles. That translates to more than US$1 per bottle for wholesale. Supermarkets are now selling peanut butter for close to US$1.80 and sometimes even US$2.00 if you factor in distortions created by using the official rate.