Pigging out is getting more expensive. Last fall, the retail price of bacon hit an all-time high of $4.77 a pound. Some are now forecasting that the B in BLT could soar to $6 a pound in the coming months, tragically coinciding with peak tomato harvesting season.
Every summer, it seems, consumers are hit with a double whammy—a rise in gas prices just when they’re most interested in taking road trips, and a rise in bacon prices just when they’re most interested in taking bacon and combining it with lettuce and juicy, ultra-fresh tomatoes. In both cases, higher prices are justified by higher demand, though other explanations are often given.
Starting late last summer, the bacon price surge was sharper than usual. In early August, pork bellies, which are used to make bacon, cost 53% more than they did one year prior, according to the WSJ. Retail prices rose 16% within a few months, per CNNMoney, eventually peaking in October before leveling off.
Now, it appears as if the price of bacon is poised to soar again, not only because it is BLT season, but because consumers are increasingly likely to crave bacon at both restaurants and the supermarket. Per Agriculture.com, a Dow Jones story from this spring indicated that pork bellies could hit $2 a pound this summer, much higher than the $1.40 to $1.60 rates of last summer and fall.
In recent months, fast food establishments have fattened up their menus by adding bacon to meals and sandwiches in every which way. Denny’s “Baconalia” is the most indulgently obvious example. All that bacon creates a salted meat snowball effect, with bacon with fast food begetting bacon purchases at the supermarket:
“Every time bacon is put on a fast-food sandwich, it is incremental growth in sales,” said Ron Plain, an agricultural economist at the University of Missouri.
A knock-on effect can follow. Most people find the taste of bacon on fast-food sandwiches to be appealing, and that may influence their purchasing decisions at the grocery stores, Plain said.
CNBC now cites analysts who predict that the rise in pork belly prices will possibly result in a record rise in the retail price of bacon. In May, it matched the all-time high of $4.77 a pound, and some analysts envision a price nearing $6 a pound in the near future—which will have bacon lovers squealing like pigs in frustration.