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Bacon shortage to boost cost in Canada

Rising feed costs forcing farmers to sell off herds
Consumers can expect sticker shock on bacon prices.

Canadians don't need to stockpile bacon despite talk of a looming shortage - but they may need to save up in order to bring it home.

While stores aren't likely to run out of the so-called other white meat, prices will rise dramatically within four to six months due to limited supply, the Canadian Pork Council said Wednesday.

"The options for the consumer to purchase a rela-tively lower-priced pork product will be reduced, so they'll be looking at, for example, 50, 75 cents or $1 a kilo more for a moderate cut of pork," said Martin Rice, the group's director.

Pork will stay cheaper than beef and chicken but sticker shock could lead some to cut back on the breakfast meat, he said.

The threat of a shortage sparked a frenzy online, with many posting tonguein-cheek messages of distress. "Who wants to start hoarding bacon with me?" one read.

Still, the impact on Canadian bacon lovers pales in comparison to the hit felt by the country's pig farmers, many of whom are struggling to stay afloat, Rice said.

A severe drought in the U.S. has driven up the price of grain, a major staple in hog feed, several industry groups report.

Rice said that's forcing farmers to sell their herds because retail prices aren't rising fast enough to cover the record pig-feed costs.

The concerns mirror those raised by a British farming organization now sounding the alarm over what it predicts will turn into a worldwide shortage of bacon and pork next year.

Britain's National Pig Association said pig farm-ers around the world are feeling the squeeze and selling their stock.

At least two major Canadian hog producers have filed for bankruptcy in recent weeks and Rice said others may soon follow suit unless they get some relief.

Saskatchewan-based Big Sky Farms, the secondlargest hog producer in Canada, and Manitoba's Puratone Corp. both cited the high cost of feed in filing for bankruptcy protection this month.

Rice said it costs roughly $180 to raise a hog that only fetches about $150 on the market.

While hog prices are expected to rise again by next summer, he said many farmers simply don't have the savings to hold on.