Brace Yourself for the Bacon Shortage

The BLT is a variety of sandwich containing Ba...

Is a BLT going to cost you as much as caviar or lobster in the coming months? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no question in most people’s minds that everything is better with bacon.  This may be why news outlets everywhere raised the alarm last week about the impending “porkpocalypse” predicted to leave us longing for the days when bacon could be had for breakfast whenever we wanted it.  The British National Pig Association started the frenzy when it warned that we are headed towards a global shortage of pig products, including bacon.  From the sound of things, a standard BLT is going to be on par with caviar or lobster requiring people to shell out a lot of money for just a few slices.

While it may seem likely that the shortage is a direct result of overconsumption – we do seem to like to add bacon to nearly everything – we can’t blame ourselves for the current circumstance.  We can, however, blame Mother Nature.  It seems that the reason we are facing a bacon shortage is because farmers and ranchers are keeping less pigs than normal.  This is a direct result of the increased cost of feed including corn and soybeans caused by the drought.

You might be thinking, it’s not a big deal if Britain has a bacon shortage, but the predicted shortage is not a U.K.-only problem.  The pig population around the world seems to be following the same trend with farmers keeping fewer pigs and predictions of shortages and rising prices in the months to come being discussed on the nightly news.  Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture believes there will be some impact on the price of pork in 2013.  In their August Monthly Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook report,  they indicated that decreases in livestock this year due to the drought in the Mid-West would impact prices.   As the prices of the feed farmers need to feed the pigs increases because of the drought, farmers will cut the number of pigs they have in an effort to save money.  Their initial estimates indicate that pork production could decrease by about 1.3% which may not seem like much until you consider that is 1.3% of 23 billion pounds.    Estimates are even worse for the U.K. and Europe.

However, before you go on a bacon buying binge, there is another side of this story and a difference of opinion about whether or not the word shortage is really the word we should be using.   After the British report swept the airwaves, the American Farm Bureau responded, dismissing the alarmist response.  According to the American Farm Bureau, although there will be less pork products available next year, it isn’t going to rise to the level of a shortage.  In fact, these experts predict about a 10% increase in price for pork products, but don’t see any actual shortages on the horizon.   There will be a decrease in supply which will absolutely cause an increase in price, but we aren’t likely to see empty shelves or display cases.

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