In this file:

 

·         STEINBERG: ‘People like bacon’ — two men helped save bacon’s bacon

… the men who gave supermarket shoppers the gift of precooked bacon…

 

·         America’s lust for bacon isn’t letting up, pushing pork belly prices up 80%

Appetite for beef and bacon typically swells ahead of the summer grilling boost; beef has fallen from its mid-June peak but not bacon

 

 

STEINBERG: ‘People like bacon’ — two men helped save bacon’s bacon

 

Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times

07/16/2017

 

My mother never cooked a pork chop. Never once did a holiday ham grace the table of our modest suburban home. For a simple reason: we’re Jewish, and such things are forbidden.

 

But bacon was another matter. We had bacon all the time. With eggs of course, but also piled high on BLTs, the wheat toast smeared with mayonnaise. She served hot dogs wrapped in bacon.

 

Faith is fine, but bacon is “the most beautiful thing on earth,” as comedian Jim Gaffigan put it during a routine on the beloved cured meat. “Bacon’s the best!”

 

Isn’t it though? The public agrees. Bacon sales have surged over the past decade. Bacon prices are up 20 percent this year, with supplies at their lowest in 60 years, stripped by voracious consumer demand for everything from bacon donuts to bacon-infused vodka.

 

Amazingly, not long ago bacon was in decline. I was examining historical data and found myself reading the bacon entry in The Encyclopedia of Meat Sciences. It noted that in the late 1970s bacon was wilting; a study found that female heads of households were consuming far less bacon, due to cost, the bother of preparation and the trend toward quick, simple breakfasts.

 

“As late as 1989,” the encyclopedia noted, it was believed “bacon consumption is evidently in a long-term eroding trend.”

 

What happened? One problem with bacon was that you had to cook it, a messy process. It spattered and popped in the pan. You had to scrub your stovetop or microwave every time you cooked bacon.

 

Then along came precooked bacon. I usually have a package or two in my refrigerator, for use in salads. I wanted to find out when precooked bacon appeared and encountered that rarest of phenomenons: an online information hole. No Homage to Precooked Bacon home page. Nothing on the Oscar Mayer web site. Even the thorough, maybe even glorious Encyclopedia of Meat Sciences was vague. “About the same time” restaurants began topping their burgers with bacon, “precooked bacon became available.”

 

But I kept rooting, and a book on marketing coughed up two names: Tom Bush and Mark Schweiger, the men who gave supermarket shoppers the gift of precooked bacon.

 

“We didn’t dream it up,” Schweiger said. In the mid-1990s, he and Bush were brand managers at Oscar Mayer & Co. in Madison, Wisconsin.

 

“I managed the bacon business, part of the retail marking group. I suggested to my superiors that we take precooked bacon from the food service side to the retail side,” Schweiger said. “It was already being sent to restaurants — Hardee’s, Wendy’s — for bacon burgers. We decided the consumer was ready.”

 

Oscar Mayer looked at their idea and did what big companies do so well. It said “No.”

 

“The people above me said there were too many hurdles in terms of price value,” Schweiger said.

 

A pound of raw bacon, remember, cooks down to about half its weight in cooked bacon strips, and consumers might balk at paying the same amount for less product. “They thought it was too hard of a story to tell. So we went out on our own.”

 

They formed a company, SHK Foods (“SHK” stands for “seven hungry kids,” the number of their combined children). Ready Crisp Full-Cooked Bacon rolled out nationwide in 1995. At first it was sold in the refrigerator case, next to raw bacon. But the Ready Crisp packages were lost in the clutter.

 

“We weren’t getting the awareness we needed. We decided to merchandise it outside of the refrigerator case, because it’s shelf stable,” Schweiger said. “We created floor displays, as consumers were pushing their carts by. That’s when our business took off. We were doing about $30 million in retail when we sold it to ConAgra.”

 

Bacon is about a $4 billion industry. How much of that is precooked? ...

 

more

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/steinberg-people-like-bacon-madison-duo-helped-save-bacons-bacon/

 

 

America’s lust for bacon isn’t letting up, pushing pork belly prices up 80%

Appetite for beef and bacon typically swells ahead of the summer grilling boost; beef has fallen from its mid-June peak but not bacon

 

By Benjamin Parkin, The Wall Street Journal

via MarketWatch - July 15, 2017

 

A national craving for bacon is pushing U.S. pork-belly prices to record highs.

 

Prices for the part of a hog used to make bacon have risen around 80% this year, while frozen reserves are at a six-decade low. Americans bought around 14% more bacon at stores in 2016 than in 2013, according to market-research firm Nielsen.

 

“The consumer has simply woken up to the joy of having bacon on more and more things,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone in Kansas City, Mo.

 

Once considered a more unhealthy byproduct of a hog compared with prized cuts like pork chops and tenderloin, bacon has become a guilty pleasure amid a broader embrace of fatty meats. In the past decade, bacon has popped up on menus far from BLT’s and breakfast specials. The craze has gained pace this year...

 

more

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/americas-lust-for-bacon-isnt-letting-up-pushing-pork-belly-prices-up-80-2017-07-15