A national craving for bacon is pushing U.S. pork-belly prices to record highs, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Prices for the part of a hog used to make bacon have risen around 80% this year, while frozen reserves are at a six-decade low. Americans bought around 14% more bacon at stores in 2016 than in 2013.
Once considered an unhealthy byproduct of a hog, bacon has become a guilty pleasure amid a broader embrace of fatty meats. Appetite for beef and bacon typically swells ahead of a boost from Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday grilling. Wholesale beef prices followed that seasonal trajectory this year, falling from a mid-June peak.
Some analysts say bacon, meanwhile, is becoming a yearlong staple that consumers are eager to procure. That voracious demand has left wholesalers in a squeeze and producers are struggling to keep up.
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 (USDA), up 3% from a year earlier. But it hasn’t been enough to meet 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. (Source: The Wall Street Journal))
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