One of the state’s top pork industry men says the impending bacon shortage won’t be as bad as you might have heard, or for the exact reasons. Britain’s National Pig Association says poor harvests due to weather are causing shrinking hog herds, and making a global shortage of pork “unavoidable.”
Missouri Pork Association Executive Director Don Nikodim says that is overstated. “I don’t think you’d term it ‘shortage.’ I think supplies will be somewhat diminished next year. I don’t think it’ll be anything serious. Keep in mind we export twenty-five percent of all the pork we raise today, so we produce a lot more than we consume here on a domestic basis anyway and I would expect that priorities would keep some of that here.”
Nikodim says higher prices for corn and soybean meal are making it unprofitable to raise pigs, but he says impacts on supply will not be great.
The drought is causing beef cattle farmers to have to reduce their herds, and those could take years to rebuild. Dairy producers who are being forced to make similar reductions could leave the business, some never to be replaced. Nikodim says pork producers are able to be more nimble.
“We can make that turn a lot quicker. We can get sows back into production and get pigs in the market chain in a lot shorter timeframe than you can in the dairy or cattle business, so I think our folks can adjust a lot more rapidly and help bring up supplies if the marketplace dictates we need ‘em.”
Nikodim says some price increase is likely. “A lot of it may stem from the fact that it looks like the beef numbers may be more critically depressed than the pig side is, but you take a lot of beef out of the supply side that means there’s going to be more demand for whatever else is there. It’s simple economics … if you have less product available, prices are likely going to go up.”
Nikodim thinks one factor in the story in Britain has been overlooked, and that has to do with regulations.
“There’s a new set of rules that go into effect … some of them may have already just went into effect … but the activist extremists have brow beat and arm twisted legislators and food companies to the point they’ve put in new requirements on production facilities that a lot of pig farmers in Great Britain just can’t afford to do, so we see a number of those people exiting the business which means they’re going to have less pork available over there.”
He thinks the same thing could happen here.
“We’re seeing some of the same events occur here … major fast food chains, and you start down that list, that have all signed on to a goal of ending the use of a technology that’s proven and scientific based. If we see that continue in the legislative aspect as well … there’s the (United Egg Producer) agreement with (the Humane Society of the United States) to federal dictate cage sizes for chickens … if we continue down that path we may well find ourselves much in the same boat as Europe is. If that does happen then we could see shortages.”