Pork prices to rise in 2013

Published 12:05 am Thursday, September 27, 2012


Local residents may want to search for sales on bacon in the coming weeks, as cheap bacon will be a thing of the past come 2013.

And bacon lovers can thank the Midwest drought for the rising cost.

“With higher corn and soybean prices, which is what pig farmers use to feed, we’re anticipating retail pork prices to increase 10 to 12 percent by next year,” said Guy Hall, federal pork division director of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “Farmers are going to have to cut back on production because of the higher feed prices.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts a rise of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent, after an 8.5 percent rise in 2010 and a 1 to 2 percent rise this year.

Bacon prices topped out at $4.84 a pound in June 2011, while pork chips averaged $3.64 per pound last September.

Locally, one local grocery store lists bacon on sale for $3.99 for a pound this week.

Analysts predict that the number of slaughtered pigs will go down to about 10 percent in the latter half of 2013.

Still, Hall said there’s no reason to panic.

“I’m not saying it’s going to cost a lot more,” he said. “But there will be an increase. When hog feed costs more, pig farmers usually send a smaller pig to the market.”

Hall said that typically hogs produced can weigh upward of 340 pounds, but in trying times they may only hit 260 pounds.

“And the older the pig, the more feed it takes,” he said.

Hall said local grocery stores will still have pork.

“If you’re worry, I’d say buy a little pork now and freeze it. It will save you some money,” he said.

Steve Meyer, a consulting economist for the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council said he didn’t foresee bacon lines.

Pork products aren’t the only meat products that will be affected.

“You’ll see a rise in chicken and beef,” Hall said. “Hopefully, the other countries that grow corn and soybeans will have a better year than the U.S. did. We are hoping they will.”

Meyer predicts that some consumers will continue to pay high prices; however low-income buyers will cut back on pork and all other animal proteins as well, including beef, chicken, turkey and even eggs.

Locally, county extension agent Chuck Simon said that, while Covington County has no major pork producers, farmers did make plenty of corn this year.

“Unfortunately, we are a grain deficit state,” he said. “And the Midwest controls the prices of everything. Our prices are pretty much set on what they do.”