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Bacon fans take heart as wholesale pork belly prices plummet

Bacon fans take heart as wholesale pork belly prices plummet
From Reuters - September 15, 2017

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Fans of BLT sandwiches, take heart: U.S. retail prices of bacon, which soared to record highs this summer, should begin to ease soon, according to livestock analysts.

It could have been worse.

Wholesale prices of pork bellies surged to over $200 per hundredweight in July after starting the year at roughly $116, caused by stronger-than-expected consumer demand and tight supply, according to government data and industry watchers.

But consumers did not feel the pinch sooner because it usually takes about six weeks for changes in belly prices to be seen at the supermarket, industry experts said.

From December 2016 through most of 2017, storage of pork bellies in public, private and semi-private cold storage warehouses stayed at record lows, even as U.S. farmers took advantage of lower feed prices to build the domestic hog herd to record highs, according to industry and government data.

When U.S. consumer demand did not ease and retail prices remained steady, the industry found itself in a short-term supply quandary, said Doane Advisory Services economist Dan Vaught.

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