John Berryhill on bacon
You better hustle to McDonald’s fast and stake a claim on a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.
The nation has an official U.S. bacon reserve (who knew?) and experts say its at a 50-year low.
The Charlotte Observer was first alerted to the shortage via a tweet Tuesday morning from NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. There’s actually a Twitter hash tag: #baconreserves
His attention is fitting, since hog farming and pork product processing are major industries in North Carolina ($1.5 billion a year), especially for the eastern part of the state. Smithfield Foods, a national leader in pork products, operates many facilities in North Carolina and is a major source of jobs and revenue.
Fortune magazine reported it days ago, noting the non-profit Ohio Pork Council says demand for frozen pork belly, often made into bacon, has far outpaced supply. We currently have only about 17.8 million pounds, it was reported, which the average southerner can go through in a week.
“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever. Yet our reserves are still depleting,” said Rich Deaton, was quoted saying in USA Today.
The low reserve levels are prompting a price increase, Fortune magazine says. The cost of pork belly rose by 20 percent in January, according to the council. An increase in foreign demand might also be responsible, it was reported, as hog farmers export around 26 percent of their total product.
Foreigners may not love us, but they love our bacon.