Pork bellies become priceless

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Selling traditional bacon is an important part of Bacon Acres Ranch’s business.
Prices for pork bellies are at an all-time high. (photo: Bacon Acres Ranch)
The seasonal upswing in bacon consumption, combined with tight supplies of slaughter-ready hogs has pushed prices for pork bellies to record highs.

In the United States, wholesale prices for pork bellies soared more than 70 percent since the start of 2017, while retail prices for bacon jumped more than 20 percent. Meanwhile, pork bellies in cold storage are at a 60-year low.

In the United Kingdom, it’s the same story. Average prices for bacon have advanced 10 percent, while sausage prices have surged an average of 20 percent. Demand for pork in China has been cited as the main driver of higher prices for pork.

The conditions of tight supplies, strong demand and higher prices are forecast to persist into 2018. In its Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook report, the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the US Dept. of Agriculture said pork production is likely to increase for the balance of 2017 and into 2018. However, “… strong demand for pork — both domestic and foreign — is expected to keep hog prices year-over-year higher in the second half of 2017 and through the first quarter of 2018.”

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