Bacon prices are way up, Valley farms see increased demand

Pig at Autumn Olive Farms
Pig at Autumn Olive Farms(WHSV)
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -The price of bacon is more expensive than it has been in the past 40 years.

“I had a chef contact me saying that it used to be commodity bacon was $2.50/lb. and now it’s $7,” Clay Trainum of Autumn Olive Farms said. “We’re a local, small farm in Virginia, so when you see commodity prices for bacon or pork belly that’s higher than our prices, and we allocate about 600 acres of land toward the raising of our pigs, something is certainly extraordinary.”

The pandemic has caused issues in the supply chain, as people were panic buying meat to stock up and meatpacking plants shut down.

“You had large corporate farms with hundreds of thousands of pigs that couldn’t even be processed,” Trainum said.

And with continued high demand, more people started turning to local farms.

Trainum says they are raising as many pigs as they ever have, but they’re not close to being able to meet the national demand. They’re also dealing with the struggles of inflation.

“Products that we use or grow have doubled in cost, so that’s huge. We try not to pass that on. We haven’t passed that on to our customers because we want them to survive that are butchers and restaurants and things like that. It’s a real challenge,” Trainum said.

Trainum says they are working to create more space on the farm to raise more piglets, but he says it could be a year before the products are brought into the market.

“Fence posts that were $7 are now $24. We bought our wire in advance to save some money. A lot of products are sitting on ships off of Long Beach,” Trainum said.

The Biden administration believes inflation was also caused by large companies controlling the majority of the market.

“Those main four companies become predatory both on the consumer side and on the supply side with farms, very much dictating prices and driving prices down so low that farms feel they can’t ethically raise animals,” Trainum said.

With the inflation and heightened demand, Trainum says they’re scrambling. Autumn Olive Farms operates to be environmentally sustainable as well as economically.

“We certainly have criteria and costs that conventional, corporate and commodity farms don’t have,” Trainum said. “We’ll never be inexpensive due to land costs and management and environmental balance.”

Trainum says he thinks prices will eventually go back down as producers may have an over-response to the supply shortage, creating a huge supply.

“We love what we do, and we’re fortunate for the customer that is passionate about a delicious product that is also raised ethically,” Trainum said. “We think we’re balanced from a financial perspective because we’ve balanced the ethics of sustainability and the benefit to the animals, and the quality of the product speaks for itself.”

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