The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

October 2, 2012

Bacon shortage 'baloney,' but prices to rise



ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bacon lovers can relax. They'll find all they want on supermarket shelves in the coming months, though their pocketbooks may take a hit.

The economics of the current drought are likely to nose up prices for bacon and other pork products next year, by as much as 10 percent. But U.S. agricultural economists are dismissing reports of a global bacon shortage that lent sizzle to headlines and Twitter feeds last week. Simply put, the talk of scarcity is hogwash.

"Use of the word 'shortage' caused visions of (1970s-style) gasoline lines in a lot of people's heads, and that's not the case," said Steve Meyer, president of Iowa-based Paragon Economics and a consultant to the National Pork Producers Council and National Pork Board.

"If the definition of shortage is that you can't find it on the shelves, then no, the concern is not valid. If the concern is higher cost for it, then yes."

Fears about a scarcity of bacon swept across social and mainstream media in recent weeks after Britain's National Pig Association said a bacon shortage was "unavoidable," citing a sharp decline in the continent's pig herd and drought-inflated feed costs. The report caused much consternation over a product that used to be merely a breakfast staple, but nowadays flavors everything from brownies to vodka.

The alarm was quickly dismissed by the American Farm Bureau Federation as "baloney."

"Pork supplies will decrease slightly as we go into 2013," Farm Bureau economist John Anderson said. "But the idea that there'll be widespread shortages, that we'll run out of pork, that's really overblown."

On Monday, a spokesman for the British pork trade group maintained its position that "there will be a significant tightening in the global pigmeat supply" in the second half of next year, because "the vast majority of pig producers around the world are losing money on every pig they sell."

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