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The Price of This Popular Grocery Item Is Secretly Skyrocketing

A lot of foods have become more expensive during COVID-19, but this specific grocery item has flown under the radar.
man shopping for pork bacon in meat aisle and checking the label for price

If you haven't already noticed, the price of your grocery bill has slowly crept up over the last few months. From seafood to eggs to flour, we've seen prices for grocery staples skyrocket in price due to supply chain disruptions as well as increased demand caused by COVID-19. One grocery aisle, in particular, has gotten the most attention: the meat section.

After meat processing facilities succumbed to a series of closures when workers fell ill from coronavirus, meat output went down while demand surged. Meat prices in grocery stores and in restaurants soared as much as 28%—and prices aren't going to come down anytime soon.

Although beef has gotten the most press coverage (remember when Wendy's had to stop serving burgers at some locations due to the meat shortage?) there is another type of animal protein that has fallen prey to COVID-19 price increases but that no one is talking about: pork.

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Beef prices have dominated headlines and rightfully so. USDA data projects the price of beef and veal will increase by a staggering 8% by the end of 2020 compared to last year. As of May 2020, beef and veal prices were up by 18% compared to May 2019.

But beef isn't the only meat experiencing inflated prices. Pork—the third most-consumed animal product in America behind beef and chicken—is expected to see the second-highest price increase by the end of the year: 4.5%. In May 2020, pork prices experienced a 7.3% price increase. (The USDA also predicts that poultry prices will increase by 3% in 2020 compared to last year.)

The fact that pork will get so expensive over the next year is more surprising than it is for red meat. A weekly USDA report says cattle slaughter is down by 6 percent while hog and chicken slaughter are down by less than 1 percent from last year, as reported by Fern's AG Insider. To put it another way, despite the fact that pork production has barely decreased compared to beef, prices for pork are still projected to increase by more than half that of beef and even more than chicken even though production output is the same.

If you no longer can afford to bring home the bacon, consider these 13 Great Protein Alternatives If You Can't Find Meat at the Grocery Store.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more