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Experts Warn of Looming Bacon Shortage

Grocery Store Bacon

Bad news bacon lovers.

Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s biggest pork producer, is warning that an outbreak of African swine fever wiping out hog farms in China could result in a stateside shortage of pig belly and even ham next year.

Though the crisis hasn’t impacted the U.S. market yet, that that could change as China is forced to increase imports to satisfy demand in 2020, Bloomberg reports.

The Chinese “are insatiable in their appetite for pork,” Arnold Silver, director of raw materials procurement at Smithfield, said at the Urner Barry Global Protein Summit in Chicago earlier this week.

Prior to the start of the epidemic a year ago, the Asian country a veritable superpower of pork. Experts estimate that by the end of 2019, China's production of pork could be cut in half. "That's roughly 300 million to 350 million pigs lost in China, which is almost a quarter of the world's pork supply," Christine McCracken, a senior analyst at RaboResearch, told NPR. "It's a massive number."

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Smithfield will reportedly prioritize supplying its U.S. customer base before directing meat for export to China, Silver said. Strong demand from Asia, however, represents “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” for U.S. farmers, and could result in limited supplies here at home.

Enjoy that pork while you still can y’all!

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