US /

US Pigs Are Too Fat for Thanksgiving Table

Farmers bulked up hogs after virus, but now too big for popular spiral-cut hams
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2014 8:14 AM CST
US Pigs Are Too Fat for Thanksgiving Table
A pig named "Lord Bacon Dispenser the Third Duke of Hamelot" inside the "urban farm" behind Claire McGinn and Kendra Ritter's Grand Rapids, Mich., home on Sept. 4, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Cory Morse)

We use almost every part of the pig imaginable—even the blood, glands, and bones, the Atlantic reports—but when it comes to holiday dinners, Americans are very specific about what they want to serve: Spiral-cut ham, averaging about 7 pounds, is the most popular choice, Bloomberg reports. But there's currently a dearth of that cut, because this year's hogs are so obese that their hind legs are too large for the half-ham process. "Seven-pound hams are in the highest demand and in the lowest supply," the CFO for a HoneyBaked Ham division tells Bloomberg. The cause: A nasty virus wiped out millions of piglets, leading farmers to feed surviving pigs longer in an effort to make up the poundage.

Ham during the holidays is big business: Half of our yearly ham consumption takes place during Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. If you are able to track down a 7-pounder this holiday season, there will probably be a hefty price tag: Prices through the end of September rose 24% to $3.389 per pound, a record high, though ham prices have been rising overall for the past few years (up 32% since 2010, Yahoo reports). It's not all bad news from the pen: There is an excess of certain types of hams—plenty of 23- to 27-pounders, Bloomberg notes—and these big pigs are aiding pork production overall, which is up 2% this September over a year prior. (If you're looking to go retro, this 112-year-old ham is still supposedly edible.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.