Buyers grumble as bacon reserves tumble

February 03, 2017

If you haven’t heard, The Ohio Pork Council and the USDA reported earlier this week that the demand for frozen pork belly, frequently made into bacon, is outpacing supply — leaving the country's bacon reserves are at the lowest levels in half a century. In other words, pig farmers can't keep up with the world's sizzling appetite for those fatty, smoky strips of sheer eating pleasure.

According to statistics from December 2016, frozen pork belly inventory totaled 17.8 million pounds, down more than 35 million pounds from the year prior and the lowest level since 1957.

“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” Rich Deaton, the president of the organization said in a recent article. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.” There are literally not enough little piggies going to market.

But, others in the industry are saying this is no reason to panic, as that the reserves are just that — reserves.

“We’re going to slaughter about 3% more pigs this year than we did last year — a record number,” said Steve Meyer, the vice president of pork analysis for EMI Analytics. “There’s plenty of hogs coming. There’s going to be plenty of bacon.”

So while it’s probably not time nix those bacon wrapped cocktail weenies or the bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers from your Super Bowl party menu, you will more than likely be paying a premium for your package of bacon at the grocery store.

The article explains that as a result of the growing demand for bacon, prices have increased 20% in January alone — or about 50 cents a pound more in the last two months. Officials also said increased foreign demand might account for the decline in inventory and the raising price, as hog farmers export approximately 26% of total production.

“While bacon may become more expensive for consumers, rest assured the pork industry will not run out of supply,” Deaton said. There is also little chance restaurants and grocery stores start rationing the sizzling slices anytime soon.

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If you are thinking about cooking bacon this weekend, brush up on proper bacon food safety here.

Need some bacon inspiration? Find recipe ideas for the big game here.

Category: Food Safety, Food & Beverage, Swine