By Jeff Helms
Shoppers have gone nuts for butter toffee, honey roasted and salted offerings from Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) since the organization started distributing products to retail stores in 2020.
APPA Executive Director Jacob Davis said the idea for wholesale marketing sprouted from a single location in Barbour County.
“We’ve sold canned peanuts from our Dothan office for years. We had one customer, Fort Mitchell Trading Post and Hardware, that was buying peanuts from us, paying sales tax and putting them on the shelf at the store,” Davis said. “I knew people loved our product — especially the butter toffee peanuts — so I worked with our accountants and the Alabama Department of Revenue to begin selling wholesale.”
Davis never meets a stranger. The former Alabama FFA adviser hopped in his truck and started visiting co-ops, feed and seed stores, farm markets — even boutiques. Armed with a trifecta of flavor, Davis let his product do the convincing.
“I open up a can of butter toffee peanuts and shake some into their hand. If they’re the decision-maker, there’s about a 97% success rate they will sign up right there on the spot,” Davis said with a chuckle.
Today, 162 stores carry APPA products, and last year, Davis and his three-person team shipped 55,000 cans to peanut-hungry fans.
APPA Vice President Mark Kaiser said the wholesale program helps remind families to purchase peanuts wherever they shop.
“It gives the consumer the ability to see what we’re growing and think about buying peanuts when they go to the store,” said the Baldwin County farmer. “It promotes buying local, and it’s just a great product we know the consumer will love.”
APPA, an affiliate of Alabama Farmers Federation, is a producer-funded checkoff organization. Davis said peanut sales generate revenue for APPA and, more importantly, further the checkoff mission.
“Our charge is research, education and promotion,” he said. “This is a promotional effort we can actually put metrics to. When you go to a trade show, you don’t really know what kind of impact you’re having, but with this, you know.”
APPA is a member of Sweet Grown Alabama, the state’s agricultural branding program. Davis sees retail peanut sales as a win-win for the two organizations.
“Sweet Grown Alabama fits nicely with APPA because we are promoting an Alabama product,” he said. “We like having that slogan on our cans, and we also put the Sweet Grown Alabama logo on every promotional pack we give away.”
Alabama ranks second in the nation in peanut production. Sweet Grown Alabama Director Ellie Watson said it’s important for shoppers to connect peanuts to the state and, ultimately, farmers.
“Peanuts are a key crop in Alabama’s agriculture economy,” Watson said. “Sweet Grown Alabama is proud to be featured on the promotional packets and cans of peanuts sold all over the state. It brings visibility to Sweet Grown Alabama and helps consumers connect the brand to a high-quality Alabama product.”
The retail program also benefits small-business owners.
“I think it’s a good niche market because our retailers often don’t have buying power or order size to carry something like this,” Davis said. “They can’t buy a whole truckload at a time, so this is a mutually beneficial program.”
APPA’s retail network stretches from Mobile to DeKalb County and from Lauderdale County to Dothan. A list of participating stores is available at AlPeanuts.com. Shoppers also can order peanuts online or drop by APPA’s Dothan office at 1810 Reeves St. For other Alabama products, visit SweetGrownAlabama.org.