Peanut Butter of the Argentine
Drizzle came down today, wind blew and leaves fell. My thoughts turned to Argentine peanut butter.
My preferred discount supermarket set up a Dollar Aisle recently. Or as the store probably should call it, the Near-the-Expiration-Date Aisle. Anyway, I took a look around the aisle today and found Pampa brand peanut butter. I know that brand. (I Googled "Pampa Frosted Flakes" and my posting was on the first page.)
Argentine peanut butter? Does Argentina have a major peanut crop? Yes it does: "Every year more than 200,000 hectares of well selected farmland is used for the cultivation of peanuts," asserts a web site maintained by the B&F Trade Agency, a Dutch specialist in groundnuts and cocoa beans. "The total yield of raw shelled peanuts is more than 550,000 metric tons and the total export of shelled and processed peanuts comes around 400,000 tons."
That's a big mess of goobers. The site continues: "The major exporters of peanuts are the United States, Argentina, China, Sudan, Senegal, and Brazil. In recent years Argentina has become the leading exporter. China will soon convert from principal exporter to principal importer as the domestic consumption will rise (double by 2020) and loss of arable lands."
Clearly this 12-oz. jar of peanut butter that has come so far has something to teach me, in a roundabout way. I didn't know that the Chinese will double their peanut consumption by the end of the decade, for instance. They need a slogan for that: Let a Thousand Jars of Jiff Open!
Checking the ingredient label, I see that Pampa peanut butter contains exactly the same things as standard peanut butter in North America, including peanuts, sugar, "totally or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (palm)," salt and molasses. The only difference between Pampa and the domestic jar I compared it to is that the domestic product includes rapeseed, cottonseed and/or soybean oils -- whatever was a penny a gallon cheaper the day the peanut butter was processed, I guess. I also see on the Pampa jar: Best if Used by Dec. 3, 2011. Yep. Thought so.
Pampa isn't a hippie peanut butter than promises no sugar or vegetable oils to keep the peanut oil from separating out. I'm always amused to see that kind called "natural" peanut butter. Of course it's natural -- straight from the mines near Dothan, Alabama, which has been the main U.S. producer since the discovery of the Great Nut-Butter Lode in 1838.
I opened the jar to find out how Pampa compares to the peanut butter I'm accustomed to. Smell: same. Consistency: same. Taste: same. The jar is obviously for export to Estados Unidos de América, and it seems that the Argentine peanut-butter makers know their market.