Friday, September 28, 2012

What is Bacon?

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Only a few short days ago, the internet was awash in fury after a British pork association announced that there was going to be a global bacon shortage. The first question that came to my mind, was "I love bacon and all, but why only bacon instead of all cuts of pork?" That question lead me to doing a little digging.

The simple answer is: The price of all cuts of meat, pork included, will be increasing because the cost of feed stock (aka corn) is increasing due to droughts. This was just a warning that it will be happening. It was just a clever marketing ploy to focus on bacon instead of the whole meat industry.

But I arrived at a much more interesting question (and answer) by doing a little research...

What is Bacon? and after that, an explanation that I would like to call, "Why a bacon shortage is not coming to a retailer near you."

First off, here is a pig:

As pigs grow older, cuteness undergoes a biological process that transforms into tasty. THIS IS SCIENCE!

Note where the bacon is coming from. Don't make me draw an arrow for you (the belly). The belly is only really good for one thing: bacon.

Now note where the loin is (the back). That's what the Brits call Bacon. Americans call this Canadian Bacon. The Canadians call this Peameal bacon. I made a chart because this is confusing.

Let's use the American terminology from now on. The Loin can be turned into Canadian bacon or it can be turned into pork tenderloin. Pork Tenderloin is considered a much more expensive cut than Canadian bacon, which is therefore more profitable for the butcher.

In a world of pork surplus, the butcher can afford to both make the inferior good (from their perspective) and the superior good of Canadian bacon and pork tenderloin accordingly. As feed prices go up and pork quantities decrease, butchers are going to attempt to maximize their own total profits by producing more of the superior good. Makes sense as the butcher is being being squeezed on both sides as wholesale prices for pig are increasing and what the consumer is willing to pay for pig is decreasing (because of the recession, health reasons, etc).

All of this is to say: When the Brits announce there is going to be a bacon shortage, they mean there is going to be a Canadian bacon shortage - which most Americans will be just fine with.

 It's not a REAL bacon shortage, but prices will go up a tad.

Only to be followed by sad moments in breakfast history.

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