Plentiful Pork

Business Manager Steven Socha stocks his case full of bacon,  a popular product at his store, Novak’s Meat Market.

El Campoans do not believe local suppliers or consumers will be largely effected by the ongoing hog crisis in China,  which is predicted by some to lead to a global shortage of bacon and pork in 2020. 

With an almost crazed fan base, bacon has a unique allure, inspiring admirers to create products ranging from bacon desserts to bacon-flavored toothpaste.

While bacon prices have been high in El Campo during the past two to three years, local business managers and owners believe global bacon shortages anticipated for 2020 will leave El Campo largely unscathed.

At Novak’s Meat Market at 205 Washington Street, bacon and pork are popular products. Even if the supply were to decrease, El Campo will probably not be largely affected, Novak’s Manager Steven Socha said.

“It’s a market, it goes up and it goes down,” Socha said. “Here lately, it hasn’t gone down.”

Officials for Smithfield Foods, a global pork producer, predict the global bacon supply could drop next year, citing an outbreak of the hog-killing illness African swine fever in China.

Millions of pigs have been killed by the disease in Asia so far, according to Bloomberg.

“While China’s hog crisis hasn’t had much impact on the U.S. market yet, that could change in 2020 as the Asian nation is forced to increase imports even more in the face of a prolonged protein deficit,” Director of Raw Materials Procurement at Smithfield Foods Arnold Silver said, via Bloomberg.

The production supervisor for Prasek’s Family Smokehouse, Mike Prasek Jr., sees the hog crisis leading to a short-term supply shortage. Prices for pork picnics, used to make sausage, was higher during the last three weeks, but decreased in the last few days.

“This leads me to believe that maybe some of the pork price increases are more of a knee-jerk reaction,” Prasek said.

Prasek’s buys more than a truckload of pork per week. If the pork shortage or price increase were to last long-term, the company would be forced to adjust pricing, Prasek said.

“We can only absorb so much of the loss in profits,” Prasek said.

Bacon is enjoyed by El Campo Seafood and Grill customers, but in a bacon shortage, Manager Loriana Chan said the restaurant probably wouldn’t be impacted.

“The prices always increase all the time,” Chan said.

If the global bacon supply decreases as much as officials predict, Prasek predicted consumers will adjust.

“Consumers will buy a different protein and that is what has happened in the past,” Prasek said.

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