Bacon Shortage Could Be Hitting The United States


The United States could see tight supplies or shortages of pork bellies and ham in 2020.

According to reports, Smithfield Foods Inc, a maker of bacon, ham, and sausages based in Virginia, says the United States could face a bacon and ham shortage in 2020, as the spread of a pig-killing disease in China may start affecting the global market.

The deadly pig disease that hit parts of Europe and Africa has spread across Asia. The disease infected millions of pigs. As a result, prices of pork in China, which is home to half the world’s pig population, have skyrocketed.

Arnold Silver, Smithfield Foods director of raw materials procurement, said at the Urner Barry Global Protein Summit in Chicago, that the United States could be affected next year if China is forced to increase imports as a result of the shortage.

Silver added that the Chinese “are insatiable in their appetite for pork.”

African swine fever has killed millions of hogs in China and elsewhere in Asia, sparking the need for more imports.

The disease caused China’s pork production reportedly to be down by over 32 million tons by 2020.

Smithfield will reportedly prioritize supplying their United States customers before directing meat for export to China, Silver said.

Strong demand from the Asian market, however, represents “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” for farmers in the United States and could result in limited supplies here at home.

That outlook comes even as China maintains its retaliatory tariffs against U.S. pork shipments. If the duties are lifted, American exports will increase, even more, Silver said.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation also expects increased Chinese buying of pork in 2020. American pork exports to China will likely see an increase of 12% in 2019 and a 13% increase in 2020, reaching 3.1 million metric tons. That forecast assumes the trade war persists.


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