Bacon is more expensive for Americans than it has been in the past 40 years.
And yes, that is accounting for inflation. That hankering for pork chops is costing you about 7% more than 12 months ago. The average price for that slab of bacon to accompany the Sunday morning spread has jumped nearly 28% during the past 12 months, inflation-adjusted Consumer Price Index data show.
The supply chain issues and inflationary pressures that have become all-too common in these pandemic times certainly have played theirs roles in the pork price hikes, alongside a slew of industry-specific influence. President Joe Biden’s administration, for its part, believes prices are high because a couple of large companies control the majority of market share, and has outlined plans to level the playing field. By some analysts’ expectations, the higher prices aren’t expected to ease anytime soon.
The domestic pork supply chain was one of quickest to get knocked out of whack when the Covid-19 virus started its spread in the US. Panic-stricken consumers bought up deep freezers and cleared out meat counters. The food service channel effectively shut down overnight, breaking a major arm of the supply chain. Meatpacking plants — where employees worked long shifts in close proximity to each other — emerged as virus hotbeds. Lives were lost, plants were temporarily shuttered and federal investigations ensued.
When those facilities shut down, the backlog of animals grew, resulting in millions of pigs being euthanized without processing into food. Additionally, producers, wary of getting ahead of demand with too much supply, started thinning their breeding herds — ultimately depressing this year’s pork supply, said Adam Speck, economist with IHS Markit. Pork production is expected to close out the year 2% lower than 2020 levels, he said. In terms of demand, it’s a different story.