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Relax, the Great Bacon Shortage of 2012 Is a Myth

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High feed prices mean more pork, not less.

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"Depending on how severe the herd contraction is, there could potentially be an issue in a year," he says. "If you slaughter your herd at a high level and it does shrink, you'll obviously have a contraction, which would affect supply sometime in the back half of next year."

On the other hand, those "moving parts" Hackett mentioned make the livestock market notoriously difficult to predict.

"If feed prices fall quickly, farmers may go back and start increasing their herd sizes again," he says. "And you can do it pretty quickly with hogs -- it's a six-month cycle, unlike cattle, which is a two year cycle."

Of course, hog farmers will also have to contend with the USDA's estimate that overall meat production will be roughly 12% less in 2012 than it was in 2007, signaling a structural shift in the way people eat -- as well as something for large retailers like Safeway (NYSE:SWY), Kroger (NYSE:KR), and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) to consider very seriously.

All-in-all, bacon-eaters can relax. Here's Hackett again:

"To say that a bacon shortage could reach a dire level, there's just no way you could make that conclusion, not at all."
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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