We survived the great pumpkin shortage of October 2016 and lived to tell the tale of the avocado shortfall that quickly followed; now, yet another beloved food has become mysteriously scarce: Bacon. America's bacon reserves are at a 50 year low, announced the Ohio Pork Council on Tuesday citing a USDA report... and I just don’t know if I’ll make it through this one, gang. Pardon if I take a moment to wax rhapsodic about the smoky, salty treat, but I love bacon — bacon is my soulmate, my reason for waking up each morning. Savory or sweet, the cured pork product has the ability to make everything magically better with its presence. And now, this favorite food may soon be in short supply — or, at least, at risk of a price hike.
“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” Rich Deaton, president of the nonprofit Ohio Pork Council, said in a statement. “Yet our reserves are still depleting." It appears I am not the only one obsessed with the taste of cured pork belly; indeed, bacon mania has been trending since the late '90s. (Seriously — look it up. It even has its own Wikipedia page). Blame the Atkins and Paleo diets for putting protein center stage on bacon's inherent deliciousness, because now farmers just can't seem to keep up with the bacon demands from both domestic and foreign consumers.
Needless to say, people are freaking out:
Before the collective meltdown kicks into high gear, though, this bacon shortage is not actually that bad. In fact, the term "shortage" is a tad misleading. Deaton's announcement referred specifically to our nation's frozen pork belly coffers, which have been depleted by approximately 35 million pounds since last year, according to the New York Times. We still have 17.8 million pounds of that chilled porky goodness left in the safe as of December 2016, so there is no rationing needed. In other words, there is still plenty of bacon left for your Super Bowl party.
Due to the dramatically diminished stock, however, it's true that the price of frozen pork belly has been affected. "The value of pork belly prices has risen 20 percent in just the first three weeks of January," states the Ohio Pork Council, which comes out to approximately an increase of 50 cents a pound over the course of December and January. It is likely that wallets of the everyday consumer will not be affected, though, unless pork belly prices continue on this trajectory. “While bacon may become more expensive for consumers, rest assured the pork industry will not run out of supply," Deaton assured bacon lovers in a statement.
So, America, make that B.L.T., add a strip or two to your burger, and enjoy a few slices at brunch — go hog wild! It won't make a dent in the millions of pounds we have left.