COLUMBUS, Ohio- Americans are eating a lot of bacon, so much so that reserve supplies are at a 50 year low.
The USDA says stocks of pork bellies were down 4 percent from last month and down 67 percent from last year.
The Ohio Pork Council, a Columbus-based non-profit, said Tuesday that demand for frozen pork belly used to make bacon is exceeding supply.
“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” said Rich Deaton, president of the organization. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.”
Even with record production demand is outpacing supply.
In December 2016, frozen pork belly inventory totaled 17.8 million pounds, the lowest level since 1957, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As a result, prices are on the rise. The council reports pork belly prices have increased 20 percent in January. Officials said increased foreign demand might account for the decline in inventory. Hog farmers export about 26 percent of total productions, the council said.
“While bacon may become more expensive for consumers, rest assured pork industry will not run out of supply,” said Deaton.
Investors are unhappy because trading in pork-belly futures stopped five years ago. “I’d been hoping to bring home the bacon with fat profits from going whole-hog into pork-belly futures and hoping for a streak of luck. Oh, well, they say “bulls make money and bears make money, but pigs get slaughtered,” said an investor.