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Is there a bacon shortage in the US? No, there isn't

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Is there a looming bacon shortage in the United States?

[CHICAGO] Is there a looming bacon shortage in the United States?

The Ohio Pork Council, a lobbying group for pig farmers, sparked something of a minor online panic early Wednesday by pointing out that frozen pork belly inventory - the stuff bacon comes from - dropped by two-thirds last year to a 60-year low.

The hashtag #baconshortage2017 was quickly born, as frantic headlines warned of possible bacon privation.

Just one problem: there is no bacon shortage.

It's true, there were fewer than 18 million pounds of the stuff in reserve as of late December, according to the US Department of Agriculture. A year earlier, pork belly stores were at 50 million pounds.

And yes, the level or reserves has not been this low since the USDA began keeping monthly records more than half a century ago, beginning in 1957.

But the drop in reserves was mainly due to good news for consumers: low prices.

The bad news is that prices already have rebounded sharply in January.

Farmers also have been pumping up their production of hogs and pigs. In fact, the US inventory of the animals climbed four per cent in December, compared to a year earlier, for a total of 71.5 million - a level not seen for at least the last 10 years.

So, rest assured there is no bacon crisis in the US, where the love affair with the salty, greasy strips of meat mushroomed in the 2000s into "bacon mania", a phenomenon that saw the publication of books such as Seduced by Bacon and Bacon: A Love Story.

"The demand is high and us pig farmers, not only in Ohio but throughout the US, have risen to the occasion and are going to meet that demand," Rich Deaton of the Ohio Pork Council told The New York Times.

He said the council had not intended to create a panic.

"We can't control how the news is interpreted," Mr Deaton said.


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