Start Hoarding Now: A Global Bacon Shortage Is Coming?

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UPDATE: As our friends at TIME Moneyland have helpfully pointed out, and as economists from Adam Smith on down have long maintained, just because there’s less of something doesn’t mean we won’t be able to get it anymore — it’ll just mean prices will go up. So no, the “unavoidable” global bacon shortage turns out to be pretty avoidable after all. According to TIME’s Brad Tuttle, here’s what’s really happening:

Because this year’s drought wreaked havoc on the world’s corn crops, the price of corn has risen substantially. And because corn is used, among many, many other things, as feed for pigs, it is more expensive for farmers to raise pigs. Farmers pass along those costs to stores, and perhaps even decide that they don’t want to be in the pork business anymore.

 The expected damage to consumers? Price hikes of 5 to 10 percent. A blow, but — as much as we love commenter jnemesh’s term for it, below — hardly the Aporkalpse. 

Parks & Recreation‘s Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman) has only cried twice. But a problem is looming that could again inspire tears in the small-town parks department director: a bacon shortage.

The European Union reports that pig herds around the world are “declining at a significant rate.” And this could lead to a serious pork (and most crucially, bacon!) shortage — a problem that Britain’s National Pig Association chairman, Richard Longthorp, now warns is “unavoidable.”

(MORE: You Can Be Buried in a Bacon Coffin)

“British supermarkets know they have to raise the price they pay Britain’s pig farmers or risk empty spaces on their shelves next year,” he says in a press release.

Oddly, this shortage isn’t coming on the heels of restaurant chains across the world adding copious amounts of bacon to nearly every dish on their menus. Rather, the issue is economic: the ever-rising prices of pig feed are making the business of pig farming a tougher one to manage.

The NPA has launched a “Save Our Bacon” campaign to convince consumers to purchase local bacon, a show of solidarity to persuade supermarket chains to stock the homegrown meat and pay farmers a higher price.

Sow herds have been shrinking across Europe for the last 12 months. Numbers show that Italian herds are down 13 percent, Sweden 7 percent and Ireland 6 percent. The NPA says that declining herds dropping slaughtering rates by even just 2 percent cause prices to increase 10 percent on store shelves the next year. The association anticipates a 10 percent drop in slaughter rates, potentially doubling the cost for pork across Europe.

The issue isn’t reserved to just Europe. In the U.S., the government has created a pork-buying program to ensure pig farmers don’t go under. Even China has added more pork to its cold storage, an insurance against a potential shortage or spiking prices.

As the pork warning signs start coming, consumers won’t likely notice anything for at least six months, as the higher prices filter through the supply chain. With that delay, expect pork shortages and bacon hoarding to get even more intense over the next few months. There’s never a dull day in the world of bacon.

MORE: Presenting the 100% Bacon Hamburger

79 comments
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Alex Crowder-Mccormick
Alex Crowder-Mccormick

This isn't even relavant unless you actually go buy it from a farm, and most people don't... there is no shortage of pigs in the factory farms where all the grocery store meat comes from... they don't care about the cost of corn  there... they are fed absolute garbage and just enough to keep them standing until they are slaughtered anyway.  No grocery store bacon comes from farms... real farmers can't compete with the low costs of factory farm pigs, because it costs too much to actually humanely look after an animal.

Terry Coghlan
Terry Coghlan

Dolphintam:"A very happy and healthy vegan who eats delicious food that does not harm any animals in any way!"

apart from the pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers that kill millions of small animals. even if you eat organic the farmers use nematodes to kill insect etc and pay people shoot pests like rabbits etc. and the fact intensive farming used to produce your happy vegetables and cloth's destroys small ecosystems like hedge-groves etc. And when yourself, a friend or a family member gets e.g cancer you don't complain about animal torture when they're given lifesaving drugs. i could go on but i can't be arsed, so cutting a long story short living on a vegetarian/vegan diet actually harms more animals than someone who eats a balanced diet. Also " enjoy your heart disease with a slice of bacon" the vegan diet is the most unhealthy diet going, so that statement looks abit stupid when your finger nails and hair is falling out. So either stop being a narrow minded hypocritical moron, and except humans are omnivores (have you ever heard of free range/ high welfare). Or stop forcing your idiotic beliefs on other people

Terry Coghlan
Terry Coghlan

right off to the new forest and hunt me some boar, problem solved   

bwshook
bwshook

This was the news 4 DAYS AGO; since last night (Sept. 30th, and this morning, Oct. 1st the big news is that there is NO shortage of bacon coming, only that the cost of bacon will rise 5-10% because of the increase in the cost of grain fed to them--due to the drought.  This is an out-of-date article, and should be ignored!

Christine D Shuck
Christine D Shuck

This is absolutely ridiculous - if the grocery stores and restaurants would partner with the pig farmers and sell/give them the produce and fruits and uneaten food that is thrown away every day - we would have a LOT of nice fat pigs (and plenty of bacon) to go around. Watch the movie "Dive" and you might even be frequenting the back of your local grocery store for some excellent foods to eat.

Terry Coghlan
Terry Coghlan

some do 'jimmy' from jimmy's farm feeds his pigs the pressed apples cores from the local cider producer

beansngravy
beansngravy

Nothing better than cheese sauce....

Joe Oh
Joe Oh

OH NO!? BACON SHORTAGE!? WHATEVER WILL AMERICANS DO!?

Maybe eat real meat?

VegasRage
VegasRage

HA! Finally my chance to lose that extra 30 lbs has arrived!

Dick Perry
Dick Perry

How many comments can you write here before getting one of them published?

Gutzee
Gutzee

We'll still have Kevin Bacon!

kaymichigan1
kaymichigan1

Can you hoard bacon? Does it freeze well? I'd think you wouldn't want to eat hoarded bacon after a while...

Of course, that just means we need to eat all the bacon we can RIGHT NOW.

FudgeMonkey
FudgeMonkey

Domestic pig herds are down 13% but wild pig(pests) populations are up.  I see a market for organic free range BACON!!!

jasilee
jasilee

bacon is literally 3 of the 5 top reasons i'm not a vegetarian today. =(

sevensins
sevensins

Obviously they haven’t been watching TV where there are huge

numbers of hogs tearing up the south and spreading like wild fire. 

Dustin Cassidy
Dustin Cassidy

 @sevensins:disqus  Obviously you don't know you cannot eat wild hog. Its too tough and gamey.

Dick Perry
Dick Perry

 Isn't that a bit harsh against your fellow southern countrymen?

vonZippers
vonZippers

Syria, Egypt, Iran, Mitt and now bacon. This is a conspiracy. Sabotage! Next: no hog heaven!

dansimms
dansimms

Fried belly fat from a pig. Now there's a real loss.

Dick Perry
Dick Perry

Also in news: Americans are doomed to get slimmer... 

Aksa8
Aksa8

One has this sneaking suspicion Angry Birds may have had something to do with with this decline in the porcine population.

southerncal
southerncal

 Pigs are omnivores,

which means that they consume both plants and animals. In the wild,

they are foraging animals, primarily eating leaves, grasses, roots,

fruits and flowers. In confinement pigs are fed mostly corn and soybean

meal with a mixture of vitamins and minerals added to the diet.