Bacon lovers got a jolt this week with a prediction of a looming pork shortage. Here in Iowa, the nation’s number-one pork producer, there’s less concern. Ron Birkenholtz, spokesman for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says there may be fewer packages of bacon on store shelves but the salty meat treat will still be available.
“Will a consumer go to a store and not be able to buy bacon? No, that’s not the case at all,” Birkenholtz says. “The quantity of bacon will not be as plentiful but there will not be an out-and-out shortage.” He says some hog producers are reducing their inventories, selling off large parts of their herds, for several key reasons.
“The high feed costs, the drought, the lower hog prices, they’re trying to cut their costs,” Birkenholtz says. “This is ultimately going to have an affect on the market and how much pork is available.” As the herds are reduced, fewer pigs will be born in the months to come.
A lot of hogs are heading to slaughter now as producers try to cut their losses. “There’s producers now losing as much as $50 a head,” he says. “They can’t keep doing that. They’ve got to take some action somewhere and right now, it’s reducing the number of animals they have.”
Some analysts predict consumers will face paying more for bacon in the months ahead. One estimate says bacon prices may rise seven-percent by the second half of next year.