Bacon prices have soared by more than 10 percent due to a new virus which has claimed the lives of a million baby pigs in under a year.
Scientists believe that the virus, which they know little about as it only hit U.S. shores recently, originated in China and is known as “porcine epidemic diarrhea.” The virus doesn’t affect other animals or humans, but is certainly deadly for pigs.
The current crisis is costing the pork industry millions as prices rise and production declined by seven percent, the biggest drop in over 30 years. In February, a pound of bacon cost around $5.46 which is 13 percent more than a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Farmer Craig Rowles did all he could to prevent the PED virus from spreading through his pig farm in Iowa. He trained his workers to spot symptoms, and how to change their clothing and limit contact between different areas of the farm.
Nevertheless, back in November 2013, the PED hit Rowles’ farm, and within just a few weeks he lost 13,000 animals, most of them under two weeks old.
Rowles spoke about the situation affecting bacon prices: “It’s very difficult for the people who are working the barns at that point. No one wants to go to work today and think about making the decision of baby pigs that need to be humanely euthanized because they can’t get up anymore. Those are very hard days.”
Steve Meyer, an Iowa-based pork industry consultant, also spoke to reporters about the crisis: “We’re all used to: ‘We’ve got plenty of food, it’s cheap. We’ll eat what we want to,'” Meyer said. “We Americans are very spoiled by that, but this is one of those times that we’re going to find out that when one of these things hits, it costs us a lot of money.“
It remains to be seen where the situation with the fatal PED virus will go. If it continues to affect bacon prices, it may reach the point of making bacon unaffordable for some Americans.