Bacon lovers need not fear a shortage

Charisse Jones
Reports of a possible bacon shortage have been greatly exaggerated with pork belly reserves expected to have a significant uptick in production this year.

Rest easy, bacon lovers. There are still plenty of piggies going to market.

There are no bacon shortages looming, but higher prices are a possibility.

Meat processors are paying 30% more than they did a couple of months ago for the cut of pork from which bacon is made, raising the possibility that those cost increases could eventually show up at supermarkets.

Still, as of December, bacon prices were holding steady. A pound of the delectable strips averaged $5.10 , 11% cheaper than a year earlier, and 16% lower than bacon's record high price of $6.10 a pound in 2004,  says Steve Meyer, vice president of pork analysis for EMI Analytics and consulting economist for the National Pork Board, citing USDA data

Bacon Reserve Prices

The cost pressure arises from demand.. While bacon was out of favor for years because its fat and salt content had nutritionists squealing, the breakfast meat came roaring back for its gourmet possibilities. Bacon started showing up everywhere -- from toppings on burgers and doughnuts to an infusion in high-end ice cream.

The  inventory of frozen pork bellies slipped to 17.8 million pounds in December, the lowest level for that month since 1957, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” said Rich Deaton, president of the organization. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.”

A pound of pork belly rose over the past couple of months from an average of $1.04 in November and December to $1.36 per pound in January, Meyer says.