Worth County, GA (WALB) - The peanut industry continues a comeback after that nationwide salmonella outbreak.
The National Peanut Board and other industry groups launched a multi-million dollar marketing and advertising campaign to restore confidence and increase sales.
Is the effort to help Georgia's $2 billion a year peanut industry working?
South Georgia peanut farmers are still planting their 2009 crop. About 25% fewer acres than last year following the salmonella peanut problems at Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely in January.
Peanut butter sales plummeted more than 15% after the scare. Now the entire peanut industry has joined together to bring them back. A new multi million dollar ad campaign, "Peanuts, energy for the good life", is underway, uniting the entire peanut industry.
"Yes, it does bring the industry together when there is a problem," said American Peanut Industry Board Member Richard Barnhill. "We all share, and that was one of them. Yeah, I like to think we'll come back stronger as an industry. Certainly the food safety around peanuts is going to be much stronger than it's ever been."
The campaign is credited with 800 million consumer impressions already, pushing peanuts as a healthy food source, and peanut butter sales have rebounded to actually 8% above last year's sales at this time.
Sadly the economic recession may be one reason for those sales increases. "In tough times peanut butter and peanuts do very well. It's a great protein, very healthy food and it's economically priced," Barnhill said.
Peanut candy and peanut snacks sales however are still lagging, and millions of dollars will continue to roll out in the marketing campaign to restore peanut sales, crucial to South Georgia's economy and jobs.
The Georgia Peanut Commission is also leading an effort to donate thousands of jars of peanut butter to Georgia Food Banks.
Those peanuts will be processed at Tara Foods of Albany, using only Georgia peanuts, and will help feed people in need across the state.