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    Salmonella Outbreak Causes Peanut Butter Sales Slump

    Sales of packaged peanuts not hit as hard, according to Nielsen research.

    NEW YORK -- Sales of peanut butter have dropped significantly in the last four weeks in wake of salmonella outbreak, according to The Nielsen Co., parent company of Convenience Store News.

    During the four-week period ending Jan. 24, 2009, $72.5 million of jarred peanut butter was sold, a decline of 11.5 percent during the previous four-week period, and 3.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago. While the year-over-year decline may seem minimal, it comes after eight consecutive periods of double-digit growth in this category, according to Todd Hale, Nielsen's senior vice president, consumer and shopper insights.

    Nielsen, which tracks sales of peanut products at thousands of food, drug and mass merchandise stores (excluding Walmart) across the country, found 33.8 million pounds of jarred peanut butter was sold during the four weeks, down 11 percent from the previous four weeks and down 22.1 percent from the same period a year ago. Again, this pattern is lower than the prior periods.

    "The peanut butter outbreak shows little ill-effect on prepackaged peanuts, but the peanut butter category is definitely showing the impact," Hale said. "It would appear that manufacturers and retailers are quickly removing potentially tainted products off of store shelves. For those who are not affiliated with the particular supplier of tainted product, now is the time to take extra measures to educate consumers and minimize any negative impact."

    Nearly $32 million worth of prepackaged peanuts, including bags, cans, jars and unshelled, were sold in the four-week period. This is down 25.9 percent vs. the previous four-week period, and down 1 percent from the same period a year ago. This reflects the typical seasonal pattern seen for each of the past four years.

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