Bacon shortage? That’s a lot of baloney, say experts

A guy with the imposing title of ‘vice president of pork analysis’ assures Americans that despite industry efforts hyping a recent USDA report on shrinking inventories of frozen pork belly, the nation is producing plenty of bacon.

The alarming headlines came quickly Wednesday morning: “Now It’s Getting Serious: 2017 Could See a Bacon Shortage.” “Nation’s bacon reserves hit 50-year low as prices rise.” “Everyone Freak Out! America Is Running Low on Bacon.”

And panic people did.

The source of the anxiety was a recent report from the USDA, boosted by the Ohio Pork Council, which reported that the country’s frozen pork-belly inventory was at its lowest point in half a century. Pork belly is the source of the greasy meat slices people love to put on everything. At the end of 2016, the reserves held just 17.8 million pounds, down more than 35 million pounds from the previous year.

“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” Rich Deaton, the president of the council, said in a statement. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.”

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The organization even created a website: baconshortage.com. And many outlets — USA Today, NBC, CBS, Men’s Health and Business Insider — ran with the news.

But the truth is this: The frozen reserves are just that — reserves. There will be no rationing at breakfast, or for your burgers (or BLTs, or quiche, or roasted bacon-wrapped rabbit.)

“To imply that there’s going to be some shortage of bacon is wrong,” said Steve Meyer, the vice president of pork analysis for EMI Analytics, in an interview as the bacon reports spread. “There’s plenty of hogs coming. There’s going to be plenty of bacon.”

Meyer, who also works as a consulting economist to the National Pork Producers Council, did explain that frozen pork-belly inventory is down dramatically, and said that…

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