The Bacon Shortage

Bacon. Photograph by Flickr User Kentbrew

It appears that there is going to be a bacon shortage. It is estimated that the total amount (in poundage, I assume) of swine that will be produced next year will be several percent, about 10% most likely, less than expected. It is said that there will be an approximate doubling of the cost of pork production, not necessarily doubling the cost of bacon and other products at the consumer end, but certainly squeezing the farmers and raising costs in the grocery store significantly. Presumably this will mean a shortage of all pork products, and quite a few things are made from swine. Why the focus on bacon? Obviously, because without bacon, we will not be able to make BLT’s, and other fine foods, or put crushed bacon on our otherwise perfectly healthy salads.

Why will there be a bacon shortage?

Corn. Much of our food supply relies on it. Photo by Darwin Bell.

The reason for the shortage is that swine mainly eat corn, and the corn crop has done very poorly across much of the region in which it is grown, and that, in turn, is due to a widespread drought. This year’s corn crop has done poorly, so next year’s swine crop will do poorly. If the drought continues through next year, the consequences will accumulate.

If there is a bacon shortage, why are bacon prices dropping?

I’m told that bacon and other swine products are at a lower than average cost at the moment. The reason for this is that swine farmers are dumping their pigs because they know that it will be too expensive to feed them in the near to moderate future.

Did global warming cause the bacon shortage?

Global warming is without a doubt responsible for the present widespread drought, and that drought has ultimately set in motion a sequence of events that will make bacon less available and more expensive. So yes, anthropogenic global warming will cause there to be less bacon.

Is the bacon shortage a good thing or a bad thing?

Pigs. If we made salad instead of pigs, we would have a lot of salad. Photo by johnmuk.

The coming bacon shortage is a bad thing because it represents the tip of the iceberg, as it were, in a global crisis phase that we are now entering. Globally, food prices have been going up because of lower productivity, which in turn, are the result of global warming. This is not a self correcting system. If the people responsible for the most release of fossil carbon to the atmosphere would be so kind as to starve off due to lack of food, and thus reduce carbon emissions, then there would be a long term adjustment. But instead, the people contributing the most to global warming will suffer the least in terms of effect. When you are busy lamenting the lack of Bac-O-Bits or BLTs, but otherwise doing fine, elsewhere in the world there will be people starving because the society you live in has not done what it needs to do by way of stewardship of this planet.

There will be positive benefits. Face it, bacon is bad for you. As people eat less bacon the general health of the population will improve slightly, but only briefly, until the broader implications of a reduction in food supply are manifest in starvation and warfare. Some of the soldiers we send off to war to fight over resources during the coming apocalypse will be a bit healthier because they will have eaten more salads and less bacon.

Why am I joking about this, you may ask? Actually, I’m not.

ADDED: Looking around the Internet a bit I’ve come to realize that when we say that “there will (probably) be a bacon shortage” many think this means that there will be no bacon in the stores. Then, those people find out that there will be bacon in the stores, and then, declare that the bacon shortage is a falsehood. Such people are what we call in the trade simpletons. The world is not a Bacon vs. No-Bacon place. A shortage does not mean no bacon. It means less bacon, higher prices. A modest shortage could mean that now and then you will go to buy your favorite kind and brand of bacon and it won’t be there. It will mean the price is higher. It will mean that there will be fewer strips of bacon on the big giant Angus Beef Super Burger with Cheese than there were before the shortage. A more severe shortage would be more severe. Less bacon, or really, more of less bacon. A less severe shortage would be, well, less severe. More bacon (less less-ness). The world is not a Bacon vs. No-Bacon place. That is a true thing, and it might as well be a metaphor at the same time. That is all.

Here are a few resources regarding the current situation:

Global Warming and Drought

Videos on global warming, drought, and related issues






Photos: Kentbrew, Darwin Bell, Johnmuk.

Comments

  1. #1 MadScientist
    September 27, 2012

    The question is – who will profit from the pork-barreling?

  2. #2 Jim Thomerson
    September 30, 2012

    Should one immediately invest in pork belly futures? There is turkey bacon out there, which is not bad. I wonder if increased production of turkey bacon will occur.

    Whenever I go to the supermarket, i inspect the available bacon. If I find a package up to my standards, I buy it. Even though I do not often find an acceptable package, this practice keeps adequate good bacon on hand.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    September 30, 2012

    What makes the bacon acceptable?

  4. #4 Jim Thomerson
    October 1, 2012

    An obvious positive lean to fat ratio.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    October 1, 2012

    That’s hard to find.

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