Why Everybody Needs to Calm Down About the 'Bacon Shortage'

The reserves are the lowest they’ve been since 1957, but they are, in fact, reserves.
February 2, 2017, 6:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Chris Yarzab

America's bacon craze has been raging for years now, starting with bigger and bigger piles of meat and culminating in such obsession that we even started dipping it in chocolate and pureeing it into jam. So early this week when the USDA released data showing that pork belly reserves were way down, people flipped out.

NBC called the decline in frozen pork belly, from 35.6 million pounds in 2015 to just 17.8 million pounds at the end of 2016, "the first sign of the aporkalypse." (Get it?) Business Insider warned that the price of pork belly has risen 20 percent so far this year, and that prices of bacon—which, as you may know, is cut from pork belly—could skyrocket. The Ohio Pork Council sounded the alarm, and even made a website, BaconShortage.com, to presumably address the grave situation (although the website now appears to be down).

"Today's pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever," Rich Deaton, the president or the Ohio Pork Council said in a statement. "Yet our reserves are still depleting."

The only problem is that there's still plenty of bacon. The reserves are the lowest they've been since 1957, but they are, in fact, reserves. The New York Times went so far as to playfully label the collective bacon despair "fake news."

"To imply that there's going to be some shortage of bacon is wrong," Steve Meyer, the vice president of pork analysis for EMI Analytics, told the Times. "There's plenty of hogs coming. There's going to be plenty of bacon."

RECIPE: Chicken Bacon Lettuce Sandwich

The lower reserves could be due to increased demand from foreign markets, and though the decline could lead to slightly elevated prices, there will be plenty of bacon for all of your sandwich and breakfast needs. For perspective, the US produces nearly 75 million pounds of pork belly each week. And this year, the industry plans to slaughter 3 percent more pigs, meaning there will be more than sufficient rations of pork, even if the price tag is affected.

"While bacon may become more expensive for consumers, rest assured the pork industry will not run out of supply," Deaton told USA Today.

READ MORE: Scientists Have More Bad News for People Who Like Bacon and Alcohol

Speaking to The New York Times, Deanton admitted that baconshortage.com was a marketing opportunity. "If somebody Googled that, they'd get on our website, and the information there is actually to quell the fears that we're going to run out."

False alarm, everybody—feel free to go about your day as you normally would.