Look, right up top, I’m going to level with you: America is not going to run out of bacon. There’s been a lot of fearmongering going on recently, and I don’t want to play into that. But just because there’s no reason to panic doesn’t mean we’re in hog heaven: A new report shows that our bacon reserves are the lowest they’ve been in generations, meaning higher bacon prices could be on the horizon.
According to the USA Today, citing a report from the Ohio Pork Council and numbers from the USDA, America’s frozen pork belly inventory this past December was down to just 17.8 million pounds, its lowest level since 1957. For those still harboring the illusion that bacon rains down magically from the heavens, pork belly is the part of a pig used to make bacon, meaning what’s bad for the pork belly market is bad for your BLT.
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While these these depleted reserves sound troubling, bacon production has hit all-time highs. “Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” Rich Deaton, president of the Ohio Pork Council, was quoted as saying. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.” As a result, pork belly prices spiked 20 percent in January, though Deaton also says that rising prices should be the worst of it. “While bacon may become more expensive for consumers, rest assured pork industry will not run out of supply,” he stated.
To put it succinctly, we’re making a ton of bacon but we’re also eating a ton of bacon. So much so that we’ve been dipping into the reserves. It's possible that high demand could raise prices and those higher bacon prices could have ramifications beyond simply hitting our wallets: Restaurants could choose to cut costs by tightening their bacon belts, meaning the halcyon days of seeing stacks of bacon on burgers and bacon-wrapped everything on restaurant menus could come to an end. It’d be bad news for our stomachs, though other major organs like our heart and arteries are probably pretty amped.
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