Global Bacon Shortage Predicted for 2013

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist September 26, 2012

Bacon!The drought that ravaged much of North American agriculture this past summer also proved devastating to food production in Russia.   The worldwide impact of the widespread drought on the supply and cost of animal feed is so severe that the UK National Pig Association (NPA) emphatically declared this week that:

“A world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable”

Gulp.

Some farmers have been getting by feeding candy to their animals instead of feed while others have responded by paring their herds.

The NPA notes that the paring of herds by many pig farmers will likely cause the number of animals available for bacon production to drop by 10 percent during the second half of 2013 causing the price of those sizzling strips to double.

Dave Warner, spokesman for  the National Pork Producers Council in the United States doesn’t seem nearly as concerned.  He says that while paring of herds is definitely happening in the States, it’s not nearly as widespread as in Europe.

Steve Meyer, a consultant to the pork industry, agrees that bacon prices will probably be under pressure in the US as hog farmers will be reducing their herds by around 3% or so through next spring.   Mr. Meyer went on to say that bacon in the UK and in the US is completely different, however, and unlike other countries like Australia which imports as much as 70% of its bacon, the United States does not import any bacon at all.

Wait a minute!  Does this mean that when you buy “Canadian bacon” in the United States, it’s not really from Canada?

Guess so.

While it is still too soon to say whether an actual bacon shortage will materialize in the US like is expected in Europe, prices are indeed predicted to rise.  Steve Meyer said he wouldn’t be at all surprised to see bacon prices around the $3.70 mark per pound sometime next year.   According to the USDA, prices last month hovered around $3.53/lb with $3.56/lb the all time record set back in 2011.

While some consumers are tweeting their dismay at dwindling bacon supplies with some even saying that “the Mayans were right, this is how it’s going down”, others are yawning at the entire affair and feel quite secure in their pork and bacon supplies.

Pigs In A Pig Pen

Why so?

These smart consumers buy pastured pork and bacon from small family farms which have not experienced nearly the same devastation from the drought as the conventional hog industry.

Perhaps it’s time to get to know your local pastured poultry farmers before the bacon apocalypse of 2013 strikes.

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources:  Bacon Shortage Worldwide “Unavoidable” UK Pig Group Says

Are We About To Run Out of Crispy, Delicious Bacon?

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Comments (74)

    • “Mr. Meyer went on to say that bacon in the UK and in the US is completely different, however, and unlike other countries like Australia which imports as much as 70% of its bacon, the United States does not import any bacon at all.”

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  1. Welcome to Neo Roman times. Hmm, maybe the governments will start producing their own, or, rather, take over a few feed companies to feed their own pigs so we can depend on their system a bit more. Government welfare, government food. Yikes!

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    • I actually thought everyon knew Canandian bacon was a cut …..not imported from Canada. And the article stated we do not import bacon….although I wonder why with all the other imports of products that we have or could make right here in our own country.

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  2. Sarah, “Canadian” bacon, as I am quite sure you know, is not from Canada (gasp! shock!). It’s a style of bacon (thin round pieces) different from the typical American strips. This is not a surprise to most consumers and does not represent some marketing scam.

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  3. Sarah – I’ve been wondering about this. But I question why pastured pork isn’t affected. Is it because pastured pigs depend less on industrial agriculture crops, like corn, which grown almost entirely in drought-affected “corn belt” region of the country? I was under the impression that pastured pigs still need a fair bit of supplemental feed, unlike grazing cows, which can survive on pasture plants alone. I think I got that idea on a tour of Polyface Farm a while back. What is this supplemental feed made from and where is it grown? Furthermore, weren’t the plants on their pastures also affected by the drought? Or is your article only referring to animals that are raised in those parts of the country that weren’t affected by drought?
    Nevra @ ChurnYourOwn\’s last post: Turkish Zucchini Pancakes

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    • Bingo!. If a pastured pig farmer wasn’t affect by drought, then they weren’t in the drought. We didn’t raise pigs this year because there was only dry, brittle stems and the trees we cut to get by. There certainly wasn’t any extra milk to feed pigs. You have to be careful where you get your “pastured” pigs. Most of them are raised identically feed wise to commercial pigs…just outside.

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  4. Hmm, wow. Up here (Canada) we pay $5.99 to $9.99 per pound of bacon (the higher-priced one is more pastured/natural), and many truly pastured bacons are even more expensive!! It’s a luxury for us, but I try to get a little every week since we love it so much and use it to flavour other dishes. I wonder if we’ll have a shortage up here next year.

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  5. Our local raw milk farmer here in Omaha, lost several pastured pigs one day when it got too hot, very sad! Pigs can’t take the heat without being able to get in the mud, and I guess they didn’t have access this particular day.

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    • If the pigs can’t take the heat – they should get out of the kitchen! :D (this is national joke day isn’t it?) The reason low fat, lean bacon costs more is because the farmers have to buy tread mills and workout clothes for the pigs…

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  6. Our local farmer who raises his pigs on pasture is cutting back this year. The drought has affected things so much that he needs what water he can get to grow grass for the cows (for raw milk shares) and also hay for part of their winter feed (we get snow and there isn’t much growing grass during the winter!). There isn’t enough water to grow pasture for the pigs so he’s not going to have many/any for next year at all. He’s also butchering his steer earlier this year since he can’t afford to raise them any long with the cost/lack of water. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to buy any of the pork meat so we just do without.

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    • Our local farmer is in the same position, they had to start feeding hay over the summer because the grass dried up and the hay is costing more and more, they are trying to be creative though and are raising money to make a creamery out of an old trailer so they can have a value-added product- yogurt. So the drought has affected a lot of farmers.

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  7. I bought some bacon from a farmers market once but I don’t know how to use it and MAN OH MAN was it expensive! Half of it is still in the freezer with a big question mark on it. What can you do with- totally uncured pig stomach anyway?

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    • Bacon isn’t uncured pig stomach. Or was that a separate question? Just fry up the bacon…. we used to stuff our pig stomach’s with cabbage and sausage and potatoes or sometimes just sausage and potatoes … and bake in the oven for an hour …..Mmmmm so good! If you’re lucky enough to have a pig stomach stuff it up and bake it!

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      • Interesting, I would never have thought to eat pig stomach. This year we started raising rabbits and last night we butchered up our first kindle of rabbits. I went out to the garage to check on the progress and saw my husband through away the liver, heart, other organs and even the rib cages of the rabbits we decided to quarter. I freaked out at his wastefulness. Anyway, any special seasonings/herbs for the pig stomach? (And you’re talking about the organ, not just the ‘pork belly’ right?

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        • Yes the actuall pigs stomach. First you have to take off the tough outer layer though..Well not if you bought this…..I’m speaking from butchering the pig….We use salt on our hands to get a grip because it’s kind of hard to separate the lining. Once it’s ‘cleaned’ then stuff it and no special spices…..just salt and pepper. Well if you’re starting from scratch actually you have to cut a small slit in the stomach and empty the contents…… I don’t know if you are butcheing or buying…..If you bought the pig stomach or hog maw as it’s sometimes called…then just rinse it and stuff and bake!

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          • How interesting. Now if I ever get the opportunity to purchase or acquire one, I will have to try this. Have you ever tried with with other kinds of stomach? Beef, lamb, or goat?

  8. A good cost cutting measure now and in the approaching bacon shortage is to buy the “bits and pieces” package. Sure, it doesn’t look like lovely strips, but if you are going to be cutting it up for a recipe anyway…

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  9. here we go again. Worrying about something that is completely unhealthy- yes cooked fat is not good – that should be the healthy home news flash. And I luv bacon – but seriously…

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  10. I think that your article is interesting. My question is if we are attempting to be healthy, why would we care what the bacon market looked like. There is literally nothing healthy about pork products whether commercial or local farm reared.

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    • Yes, our dear Sarah is all over the place, and as others have suggested she is just really concerned with blog traffic – oh, and getting as much fat into our kids belly’s as possible (can u say butter and bacon is a “healthy” way to start the day!) – I’m being facetious – it’s late – my bad. :(

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    • I think, and I could be dead wrong, that this issue also comes down to corn. Pigs in big commercial operations eat corn (and soy) and the corn (and soy) crops this year are terrible due to the drought. (I live in Iowa-corn central-and I see it everyday on the way to work.) Since corn and soy are in 90% of the food products available in the grocery stores, I would suspect that nearly all food costs are going to raise. Not just bacon. Last fall, I heard that the cost of peanuts and peanut butter this spring would increase due to a bad crop in 2011. I bought some peanut butter a could of weeks ago and the cost was $2/jar more expensive than last year this time. That kind of price hike on all food will cause significant challenges to purchasing groceries. I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you probably limit what you buy in the grocery store and limit your processed food intake (we do). I suspect that eventually the increased food prices will trickle to (direct-to-buy) farmers who will then increase their prices as well. Back to bacon…it’s just one commodity affected in this economy, and a commodity which so many people love.

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      • The silver lining is, we eat too much anyway. If we cut in half our caloric intake – we would cut in half our shopping costs and our shopping time. If the nation and the world adjusted to less calories we would all be better off – including the farmers.
        The soil would have a chance to heal as well.

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        • Absolutely. Increase the amount of high nutrient food we eat and we will pretty much automatically reduce the overall amount we eat. What is it, 20-25% of our food goes to waste anyway?

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          • That’s exactly right – if we only seek out foods that have nutrients in them, like all the other species, we will for one eliminate obesity, dramatically cut down on food costs and food prep time (no prep to eating a banana or almonds etc.).
            This of course would mean eliminating 80 percent of the things we love to eat that don’t have nutrients: pasta, rice, bread, cooked meat, Ice cream, beans, corn, soy, cookies, cakes, coffee, soda, cheese, wine, potatos – oh and bacon. Just to name a few of my favorite things

  11. Pingback: Global Bacon Shortage Predicted for 2013 | CookingPlanet

  12. Just have to share: On the radio yesterday I heard about the upcoming shortage of bacon. In the same phrase I heard “post a-pork-alypse” Made me laugh.

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  13. pigs, animal killings are not permitted at any cost, but the traders are creating the importance of meat, meat eating is always harmful.

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    • A plant is a living entity as well, yet we kill them for sustenance, what’s the difference? Meat eating is no more harmful than peanuts or plants and other organisms on earth.

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  14. Pingback: Why the Bacon!?! « Brandon Carter

  15. I buy my vegetable fed, pasture raised bacon from a small time farmer at the Hollywood farmers market at $13.50 a lb. but well worth it. They don’t always have it so I buy several at a time each week they have it. I have about 20lbs of bacon in my freezer. I am set for a while : ) .

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  16. Jeannie Owen Miller via Facebook September 28, 2012 at 10:57 am

    But in the southern United States, wild pig population are at epidemic proportions, causing them to be openly hunted with no limits? Something’s not right there…

    Reply
  17. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook September 28, 2012 at 10:59 am

    My local farmer butchered his pigs early because it was costing him too much to feed them. Cows can be totally grass fed, but pigs and chickens do need some grain aside from just grass.

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  18. Karin May via Facebook September 28, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Actually, no, there isn’t really going to be a ‘bacon shortage’. The ‘shortage’ announcement was a press release from a UK National Pig Association that was trying to get the British to feel OK with higher prices. It’s actually just another case of big media not doing any fact checking before releasing the story. Here’s the scoop: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/09/unavoidable_bacon_shortage_u_k_s_national_pig_association_has_everyone_worried_about_the_price_of_pork_.html

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  19. Nancy Liberty via Facebook September 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Our controlled media in the US does not tell truth. If you heard anything about bernanke’s QE3 announcement, america is headed for super inflation…much like what is going on in the UK and Spain….I wish it weren’t so.

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  20. Kacee Wheeland Burke via Facebook September 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    we pastured our two pigs we have now and they eat a TON less grain. They would eat even less if we pastured them under an oak or different nut producing tree but we wanted them to till and poop in our on garden.

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  21. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook September 29, 2012 at 10:04 am

    @Christina…No, pigs and chickens do need a certain amount of grain. My local farmer feeds them organic flax seed, etc… No corn or soy at all. Our growing season is short up here. Pasture is finished already and it’s only September. Leaves are changing color too. Pigs and chickens cannot thrive on hay like cows can, so he has to give them some grain, but as I stated earlier, the grain he gives them is mostly organic flax seed, etc..and no corn or soy.

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  22. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook September 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

    LOL..to add to my previous comment…we’ve had our first frost here already 2 weeks ago. Low temp was 31 degrees.

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  23. That’s funny, I started to read this article but stopped when I realized it doesn’t apply to me because I buy pastured pork from a local farmer.

    I left the link up on the computer, however, and came back upon it and read the rest… which described my exact reaction!

    Reply

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