Americans now consume more bacon than the nation’s 60,000 pig farmers can comfortably produce: Frozen pork-belly reserves are at a six-decade low, according to USDA data, and consumers last year managed to buy 14 percent more bacon than they did in 2013 — a year in which demand was so high, prices rose to an “all-time record.” This obsession is once again causing the price to skyrocket, so keep this in mind the next time you’re about to purchase more bacon salt and another family-size jar of Baconnaise to enjoy with your latest bacon-of-the-month-club order. This year’s prices are in fact 80 percent higher than last year’s. Per The Wall Street Journal:
Pig farmers are struggling to keep up with demand. The national hog herd rose to a seasonal record of 71.7 million head in early June, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up 3% from a year earlier.
But it hasn’t been enough to satiate bacon demand. Stocks of pork bellies in commercial freezers fell to 31.6 million pounds in May, down 59% from a year earlier and the lowest figure for the month since the USDA began keeping track in the 1950s.
“Voracious demand” has left wholesalers “in a squeeze,” the Journal adds. An analyst tells the paper that supermarkets and other retailers have “turned hand-to-mouth, buying only what they need, waiting for production to increase and prices to decline,” while a livestock trader observes that “[e]verybody and their mother” now has a bacon sandwich — like the new Triple Thick Brown Sugar Bacon at Arby’s, a sandwich with nearly a one-inch-thick mound of bacon piled on it. Fast-food atrocities and higher prices aren’t the worst of it, either: Some particularly slick restaurants and retailers have apparently started using extra-thin bacon slices, but charging consumers the same price.