U.S. Bacon Prices Skyrocket in June; Canadian Restaurant Sales Drop With New HST


From bacon flavored vodka to chocolate-covered bacon to the delish Ruby Jewel candied bacon ice cream sandwiches served at Portland’s Cochon 555, bacon has become a favored item on menus everywhere – and the ongoing demand is starting to reflect in record market prices. According to Business Week, the wholesale price of pork bellies has skyrocketed over the last few weeks, jumping nearly 8% to $1.3321 per pound last week. Reaching the highest price since early 1998, analysts say the steep cost is due to a public demand that surpasses pork production levels.

“The bacon market will probably lead pork products higher for the next several weeks,” said Paul Beere, a market adviser at Prime Agricultural Services in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Low supplies are “due to herd liquidation” and a rebound in demand, he said.

Breaking a 1980 retail record price in June, with bacon at $4.046 a pound, consumers may see a possible rise in menu prices at their favorite restaurants across the country. With a decline in pork supplies due to herd reduction and bouts of the H1N1 virus, or “swine flu”, hog futures have increased an overall 47% over the past year as well.

Restaurateurs in two Canadian provinces are fuming over a significant drop in restaurant sales during the month of July – with more than 50% of owners reporting fewer customers – after the recent implementation of a new HST, or Harmonized Sales Tax. Enabled in New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Nova Scotia back in 1996, Ontario and British Columbia only recently adopted the HST program on July 1, 2010, much to the overwhelming dismay of many in the food service business.

“We had been hoping for the best, but unfortunately, our worst fears have come true,” Mark von Schellwitz, [Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association] vice-president for Western Canada, said Tuesday, as the organization released results of its online membership poll that drew more than 800 responses.

With concerns that the added 7% sales tax would deter customers from dining out, many restaurants have already made adjustments, with nearly 47% reporting they had already cut staff numbers or reduced hours.

In a poll taken last December, the majority of British Columbia and Ontario residents opposed the tax, citing concerns of a possible negative economic impact.

~Jennifer Heigl