Global shortage of bacon

First Canada’s Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve was plundered, now this.

Britain’s National Pig Association, which represents pork producers, is predicting a global bacon shortage and a big jump in prices, by as much as a third, in 2013. There just aren’t as many pigs now; the size of herds across Europe and North America is dropping as farmers get out of the pork business. The drought in the US and Russia has increased feed expenses, while the amount farmers are being paid for pork hasn’t kept pace.

The NPA wants consumers to buy more pork now—specifically, it wants British consumers to buy British pork. The idea is that higher demand will raise prices modestly, which will increase farmers’ profits enough that they can maintain herd sizes.

The effect of pork prices on the economy is significant; we’re not talking small potatoes here. Agricultural price trends are often represented in market reports by two numbers: the prices of corn futures and pork belly futures. Such is the the amount of pork belly (in the form of bacon) we consume.

If the prices do rise, my own view is that’s the time to get picky and buy the best quality product I can afford. Even if that means eating less bacon, I plan to value it more. In fact, I’ll continue to make my own bacon, because it’s frankly better than most commercial bacon.