Ham crisis as pigs are 'too fat' for dinner table ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas


Maria Tadeo@mariatad
Friday 21 November 2014 11:55

A deadly diarrhoea virus and fat pigs has led to a ham shortage in the US, just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Farmers have fed surviving pigs longer to make up for losses due to the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which has killed more than 7 million pigs this year, pushing prices to a record highs.

A typical ham usually weighs 17 pounds to 20 pounds, but as farmers tried to make up for the loss of piglets by overfeeding the surviving ones, they're now too fat for consumers.

That's a problem because half of annual ham consumption in the US takes place on Thanksgiving and Christmas with the 7lb spiral-cut ham being the most popular choice at the dinner table.

But fatter pigs mean hams now weigh 23 to 27 pounds and that's too big for consumers wishing to buy half a ham.

"This year has been a struggle for people that sell half hams because heavier hogs are coming to market. Seven-pound hams are in the highest demand and in the lowest supply,' Brian Mariuz, CFO of HoneyBaked Ham's Michigan division, told Bloomberg.

So far this year, supermarket prices have risen 26 per cent to a record $3.43 a pound, while hog futures in Chicago are up 7.3 per cent.

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