Considering the rampant enthusiasm for all things bacon over the last 5 years, it is not surprising that the bacon-loving populace would go into a collective panic when hit with the news of an impending bacon shortage. The news came a few weeks ago in the form of a series of headlines originating from the UK such as, “Global Bacon Shortage ‘Unavoidable’.” But the story (as many stories tend to) got blown way out of proportion. It is not so much a bacon shortage as it is a bacon price hike on the horizon. Maybe the headlines should have read, “Bringing Home the Bacon is Going to Cost More” (not as punchy, I know).
The reason is not lack of pigs, or even the raising of standards and practices; it has to do with corn. The crippling drought that impacted the entirety of the global corn crop, not just the United States. Remember all of those widely circulated shots of withering stalks of corn in July and August – a time when corn should be growing tall and strong? Well the devastation did not just impact the price of your supermarket corn on the cob, the reverberations extended into nearly everything because of the ubiquity of all things corn and the corn-economy that drives modern agriculture. This includes everything from ethanol in your gas tank, to corn syrup in just about everything, to animal feed. The price of animal feed went way up, not just for pigs, but cows and chickens as well. This will lead to fewer animals to feast upon, but nothing close to a shortage. Essentially expect to spend anywhere from 10% to 30% more on that bit of bacon you may love so much.
Now I am in touch with the Care2 audience enough to know that many of you could care less about bacon, meaning that the thought of choking down the fatty flesh of a pig is utterly repugnant to you. But this story is less interesting in the feared result, and more interesting in what it reveals about our unyielding dependence upon the global corn crop. The reverberations from something like this past year’s drought are profound.
What are your thoughts on bacon price hikes and/or our dependency on corn? Do these sorts of things leave you worried and upset, or do you just shrug your shoulders and dole out a few more bucks for that bit of bacon?