The passionate love affair that Americans have with bacon is showing no signs of slowing.
According to data from market researcher NPD, Americans ate 1.1 billion servings of the crispy, salty meat treat in the year ending April 2014, an increase of 6 percent compared with the year-ago period. Not only is demand for pork bacon on the rise despite higher pork prices, but so are other chicken, beef and turkey varieties. Duck bacon shipments have jumped by triple digits.
Bacon's staying power is caused by many reasons. First, Americans are increasingly eating breakfast outside their homes and bacon is a key ingredient in breakfast sandwiches, which have surged in popularity in recent years. Sales have also been bolstered by what NPD describes as "new and innovative bacon menu offerings." Indeed, a generation ago most Americans associated bacon with breakfast or as the "B" in a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches. Now, bacon is found in a wide variety of products ranging from bacon ice cream to bacon soap.
"Beyond the obvious popularity of bacon among restaurant consumers, we're seeing pockets of opportunity for the bacon category at other foodservice outlets that are less obvious," says said Annie Roberts, an NPD vice president, in a press release. "There is definitely room for bacon, in whatever form or type, to grow."
Unfortunately, these are tough times for pork producers. A virus that scientists haven't figured out how to stop has killed millions of baby pigs and, according to the Associated Press, is expected to push up bacon prices by at least 10 percent. Pork production may drop 7 percent this year.