High prices of pork are making it difficult for Americans to bring home the bacon.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index for the average cost of one pound of sliced bacon broke $7 for the first time last month.
This represents an increase in price of 28% over a year ago, when a pound bacon cost on average $5.56.
According to CNN, bacon prices are the highest they’ve been in the U.S. in the last 40 years, even when considering inflation — and they’re not expected to fall in a significant way any time soon.
Supply chain issues
Perhaps the biggest culprit in the skyrocketing price of bacon is the pandemic.
It shook supply chains when restaurants and commercial eateries, such as school cafeterias, closed down in the early 2020. Commercial meat producers suddenly lost their customers.
Due to COVID-19 epidemics in their workforce, several major meatpackers had to close at different times in 2020.
This resulted in a lower demand for pigs by 2020. The sudden shortage of hogs meant that farmers had to trim their herds to save money in 2021.
Prices have risen as there is less pork supply now that the demand has stabilized.
African Swine Fever
In addition to supply chain concerns, CNN reports that African Swine Fever has been on the rise in the past year. The disease is deadly and incurable. The virus was discovered for the first times in the Western Hemisphere in early this year.
While the virus is not common in the U.S. it caused the global supply to drop, further increasing the prices.
According to The New Republic, California — one of the country’s largest agricultural centers — is preparing to implement new regulations aimed at making chicken and hog farming more humane.
These laws will reduce cruelty in so-called “factory farming” which places animals in small cages before slaughter. These new laws could increase the cost of farming and farmers and manufacturers will likely pass these increased costs onto consumers.
When will prices plummet?
CNN’s Adam Speck, an economist at IHS Markit, said that he expects supply chain problems caused by the pandemic to level out by June 2022. But, Speck said prices won’t quickly fall to pre-pandemic levels.
Speck warned that there won’t be a rapid price drop in the next few months because retailers are slow to reduce bacon prices.
Biden Administration will also enforce antitrust laws on large farms. It hopes this will lower the cost of pork in the long-term. The White House says four firms control between 55% to 85% of the market in the pork, beef and poultry industries.
The Biden administration is attempting to eradicate price-fixing by large corporations in the future, and encourage competition to bring down prices.