Avian flu and bacon demand related, but by how much?

Bacon and eggs have long been complementary products, but when egg prices spiked in 2022 amid the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, how much did it affect bacon consumption?

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Bacon And Eggs With Toast
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When egg prices spiked in 2022 after millions of laying hens in the United States were lost to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), it very well could have had an effect on complementary food products.

And since it’s difficult to think about eggs without thinking about bacon, did those high prices have any impact on bacon consumption trends as consumers rethought what was on their breakfast plates?

Steve Meyer, lead economist, Partners for Production Agriculture, hinted that it probably did while speaking on June 7 at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. However, he also indicated that any differences in bacon consumption may not be quantifiable.

Meyer referred to bacon and eggs as “complementary goods,” and generally, trends with one good that complements another “hardly ever come in as something significant.”

However, it is something economists shouldn’t ignore.

“Did the price of eggs last year at $5 a dozen have any impact on bacon? These are complements,” Meyer said. “My guess is that we will never see it in the data.”

Another complementary relationship

While economists like Meyer might not have a firm grip on just how much the price of eggs impacts the demand and consumption of bacon, at least one other complementary good did see an impact.

In February, Carlos Abrams-Rivera, president of the Kraft Heinz North America Zone, said as the price of egg was inflated, the company had to scale back the production of its Just Crack An Egg product, which offers consumers a hot egg scramble in less than two minutes, just by adding their own fresh egg.

Just how much the company scaled back on the product, he did not say, but it’s another example of that type of complementary relationship.

Thank heavens it has been months since any commercial egg operations in the United States have been affected by HPAI, which is not only good for the egg industry, but also good for all of those who produce such complementary products.

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