Why The Price Of Bacon In Arizona Has Spiked

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 11:57am
Updated: Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 1:47pm

Arizona food prices are on the rise, especially for certain meats. A swine flu in China is part of the reason pork prices are rising significantly, according to Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau’s outreach director.

“Why would that impact us? Well, if you aggregate global prices across the board, especially with your pork meat, that’s why you see one of our largest price increases in bacon.  It’s increased $1.88 to $6.73 a pound," she said. 

The wholesale price of pork has more than tripled in three months because of it. 

China accounts for half of the world's pig population at 433 million pigs, according to the USDA. Since mid-2018, African Swine Fever has infected the population in increasing numbers and production has dropped affecting prices worldwide.

Before March, wholesale pork prices for American pork hovered around 50 cents per pound, according to the USDA. As China pushed to import more pork from the U.S., prices rose to 90 cents per pound by April. Over May and June, prices tripled. Prices are expected be over $1.50 in the coming months, as China continues to import more pork from the United States, pork not infected with Swine Flu. 

"In pork, especially, they are estimated in China to have a loss of at least 25 percent in the herd because of the swine flu," she said. Murphree also said that event influences pork prices around the world. 

“As a result of African swine fever, we should expect higher pork processing around the globe as producers gradually ramp up production to meet demand,” wrote equity research company CFRA. It anticipates a 10 percent climb in pork prices in 2020 as China’s continues to be short on pork supply due to African swine fever.

U.S. meat company executives estimate that China has lost somewhere in the range of 150 million and 200 million hogs to the disease since the first reports of the outbreak back in August 2018, about the equivalent of all U.S. pork production.

Arizona’s pork market is anywhere from $30 million to $40 million, not as large as farms in the Midwest but still significant.  

The Arizona Farm Bureau quarterly price measure is an informal survey that shows the total retail cost of 16 basic grocery items. The June survey shows Arizona's grocery prices increased approximately 8.5 percent over first quarter and 12 percent over the same (second) quarter a year ago.

"We anticipated an increase, but as this informal survey shows, the total cost of our 16 basic grocery items that we always survey is up by $4.29, or approximately 8.5 percent over Q12019," Murphree said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with additional context and includes prices for both retail and wholesale pork.  

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