Georgia Peanut Processor Plans $85M Expansion, Hiring 90

DONALSONVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A southwest Georgia peanut processing company will start making peanut butter and other products, investing $85 million and hiring 90 people.

American Peanut Growers Group, a farmer-owned processor, announced the expansion in Donalsonville on Tuesday.

The company currently only shells peanuts, but said it would build a 135,000-square-foot (12,500-square-meter) factory to make peanut paste, granules, peanut butter and roasted peanuts.

American Peanut Processors said it would also expand peanut-shelling operations. It said it would begin hiring in June.

Sarah Avery, director of the Seminole County and Donalsonville Economic Development Authority, said the company currently employs about 143 people, who make at least $16 an hour.

Georgia produces more than half the nation's peanuts, with last year's crop totaling 1.66 million tons (1.5 million metric tons). Of those, American Peanut Growers processes about 200,000 tons (180,000 metric tons) a year, exporting some peanuts overseas from Savannah. The company says customers include candy companies, peanut butter makers and snack-nut roasters.

“Per capita, peanut consumption has risen to an all-time high for the second year in a row, which presents an ideal situation allowing us to further drive value through the industry’s supply chain,” Jeremy Mayes, general manager for American Peanut Growers Ingredients, said in a statement.

American Peanut Growers buys peanuts from 13 southwest Georgia counties as well as Jackson County, Florida.

The company could claim various state tax breaks, including an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $3,000 per job from state income taxes, up to $1.35 million over five years, as long as workers make at least $28,000 a year.

Avery said the county intends to offer property tax breaks to American Peanut Growers, but did not give a projected value.