This year, some grocers are giving away turkey if customers buy ham, because the price of ham has doubled since last year. Eating ham has never been more expensive than this year, partly because U.S. pigs are too fat. Hogs in the U.S. weigh the most ever, reports Bloomberg.

How and why did this happen? A deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus killed millions of piglets earlier this year, and to make up for it, farmers fattened up their hogs. Now, hogs are just too fat. Bloomberg’s Shelby Holliday reports,

“The interesting thing about the hams is, the problem is not that we don’t have enough, it’s that hams are too fat—they’re not the perfect round size that we put on the dinner table at Christmas. And so, because our hams are too fat, prices have doubled.”

The coveted lighter hams—the 7-pound, spiral-cut “half hams” that are the most popular for family meals during year-end holidays—are very rare this holiday season.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bloomberg elaborates,

“Around the holidays, U.S. consumers favor spiral-cut half hams, created by slicing the meat in one continuous coil around the bone, according to Urner Barry, a food-industry publisher in Bayville, New Jersey. A typical light ham weighs 17 pounds to 20 pounds and yields two half hams. The wholesale price of that cut more than doubled this year, USDA data show. HoneyBaked’s hams fetch $7.59 a pound this year, up 30 cents from a year ago, while the cost is up 50 cents, CFO Mariuz said.”

Russell Barton, who covers the ham market for Urner Barry, tells Bloomberg, “There’s a lot of hams not showing up on the market. So many of them are not at an optimal weight.”

Ok, so hams are going to cost you a pretty penny this year. But what about turkey, and all of the (more pertinent to you right at this moment) Thanksgiving foods?

According to numbers from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the price for a Thanksgiving meal for 10 this year is going to be $49.41. This is slightly higher from last year, but just shy of all-time highs in 2010. When it comes to turkey, grocers (not consumers) are absorbing higher costs, because wholesale turkeys are seriously costly. A 16-pound turkey will cost an average of $21.65 this year for the consumer.


In terms of commodity inflation, prices have been very high for turkeys and livestock across the board. Why? Because farmers have cut back on their herds, which has caused wholesale turkey and ham prices to get to a record high.

Also contributing to these high meat costs are corn and soy bean futures, which were at very high levels in May, which is when farmers were feeding their livestock for your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Corn and soybean futures have since decreased drastically.


When shopping for your Thanksgiving and Christmas meals this year, please, #StayWoke and know why you’re spending all your bacon on holiday ham.

[via Bloomberg]