“With our lower prices because of our huge crop, we’re very competitive in the world market,” Ortloff says, “and the Chinese know they can get clean, high grade peanuts from us. They’re not buying just oil or butter grade peanuts, they’re buying jumbos and mediums. They’ve come into the market in a big way, and we’re hoping we can continue to have them as a market for U.S. peanuts.

“All U.S. shellers have sold peanuts to China, and it looks like they may need a lot more, which will help us to use up this surplus. Most shellers are operating around the clock. We’ve all sold heavily for the first two quarters of the marketing year; it’s a difficult pace. Blanching plants are loaded up, too, and that’s another factor that will affect market.

“U.S. manufacturers weren’t buying any peanuts, and we’re seeing some signs that they buying now that they know shellers have unloaded large quantities of peanuts into China, and that there are questions about whether there’s enough shelling capacity to meet the manufacturers’ needs.

All this has been very refreshing.”

The late Clint Williams, company founder, “was a natural-born entrepreneur who was always on the cutting edge,” Ortloff says. “He officially started business in 1961 as a peanut handler, buying peanuts for shellers as the Texoma Peanut Company.

“He personally introduced the runner peanut into the Southwest in the early 1970s and in the early 1980s introduced the Virginia-type peanut.

“In 1968, we built our in-shell processing plant, which launched us into the export market in a big way; in-shell and shelled goods are a big part of our business all over the world.

“Clint Williams is unique in that, for the last 25 years, we’ve exported a greater percentage of our product than any other sheller. Golden and Birdsong export more tons than we do, but our percentage exported is bigger. We’re very oriented to the export market, as well as the domestic market.”

Golden Peanut Company

“We’re excited about the future of peanuts in Mississippi,” says Kris Lutt, the president of Golden Peanut Company.

“I came to Golden in March 2012, and since that time we’ve gone from a crop in short supply and record prices to a record crop and prices that have declined significantly.”

Golden Peanut Company, founded in 1986 by the formation of a partnership between Columbian Peanut Company and Gold Kist Peanuts, is now wholly owned by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM).

“What’s really exciting about peanuts,” Lutt says, “is the projected growth in world population and the ongoing need for low cost, high quality protein with great nutritional properties. Today’s 7.5 billion world population is projected to exceed 10 billion by 2050. Feeding all those people will be a challenge.”

One of the things the company does, he says, “is focus on utilizing all assets around the globe — whether in Ukraine, Japan, China, or Moscow — to promote peanuts and make consumers aware of our high quality products. This ability to do business globally is good for everyone in the industry, whether a grower in Mississippi, a sheller, or a processor. And we can utilize our transportation network to expeditiously move U.S. peanuts around the globe.