Baconpocalyse? Pork shortage might not be a shortage after all


Photo: Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Despite warnings of a potential shortage of pork products, most notably bacon, many economists have come out to say pork itself isn’t facing a shortage but instead the grain used to feed the livestock is in shorter supply with the drought. This might drive the price of pork up in 2013.

Carter Collins

For the last week, numerous news sources have released headlines entitled “aporkalypse” or “baconpocalyse.” But these headlines might not be true.

Britain’s National Pig Association declared on Sept. 24 that a global pork shortage would be unavoidable in 2013. The association went on to say the number of slaughtered pigs could drop by 10 percent mid-year, and that could cause the price of pork products to double.

Proviously, on Sept. 21, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a statement saying: “Experts expect less production of red meat, poultry and pork,” but nothing was said anything about a shortage.

This year’s drought across the Midwest has had an impact on this development. The drought would decrease the yields in the fields, meaning fewer crops to distribute to all ethanol and livestock needs. With a high demand and an expected low supply, prices will rise on crops. This would mean feeding the hogs would become more expensive. Expensive feed would cause farmers to cut back on how many hogs they would produce.

According to the Iowa Farm Bureau website, Iowa produces 25 percent of the country’s supply of ethanol, twice as much as any other state, and produces 28 percent of all U.S. pork. This means the drought and pork shortage will drastically affect the state of Iowa and its farmers.

However, Iowa Select Farms spokeswomen Jennifer Holtkamp said only speculations could be made of how the drought will affect Iowa farmers. The harvest in Iowa is not over and no official numbers can be given to even see if this drought really did affect Iowa’s overall yields.

Holtkamp said Iowa Select Farms had no official comment according to the recent release from the National pork Association but did say she did not know of any evidence of association’s claim.

Holtkamp did state the response people are having from association’s release does not have to do with pork itself but the use of the word bacon.

“If we were to say there will be a shortage of pig shoulders, no one would care. But bacon is a product we celebrate in this nation, even here in Iowa, a lot of people love bacon.”

Bruce Babcock, ISU professor of agricultural economics, said that while prices on pork will increase, that does not mean there is shortage of pork products. He explained the basic economics.

“As long as prices are allowed to increase, there cannot be a shortage,” Babcock said in statement to the Daily. “There will be higher prices for bacon and all pork products next year because of high feed costs, but there will not be a shortage.”

Holtkamp also said the nation’s leaders in pork producing were meeting for their regular conference call Friday afternoon. She speculated that more information regarding the condition of pork in the United States and Iowa could be available early this week.