Pig fertility problems caused by soaring temperatures

By Tim Nelson
Updated August 27, 2018
Credit: bhofack2/Getty Images

It’s been a long, hot summer in the UK. The weather in a country known for rain and fog has been so warm (peaking at 95ºF) and dry in recent months that it’s exposed crop marks from ancient Roman settlements. Not only has the obscene summer weather left Britons hot under the collar, it’s also having an impact on the price of goods that wind up on their breakfast tables.

According to an analysis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), the price for a plethora of foods is set to go up because of the heatwave’s impact on agricultural products ranging from onions to strawberries. Estimates peg the weather-driven price increase at £45 million a week across the UK, making a household’s groceries roughly £7.15 more expensive.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the heat is also likely to have a downstream effect on the price of pork. Sows end up eating less when it’s hot out, which negatively impacts fertility. Female pigs are less likely to conceive, and the litters they do produce usually end up being smaller. Piglet prices are subsequently up eight percent. With wheat yields from mainland Europe, which provides a bulk of the feed for UK livestock, down five percent, things could get even worse when it comes to the cost of bacon.

Indeed, senior CEBR economist Christian Jaccarini suggests that temperatures will plunge long before consumers know exactly what kind of price increases they’re in for. “The price spikes can take 18 months to fully feed through into inflation,” he tells The Telegraph. “So, while the worst of heat may have passed, the cost to consumers looks set to climb.”

While the heat wave will eventually end, worrying conditions around the globe suggest that higher food prices spurred by hot weather might just be the new normal if ongoing climate change is not mitigated. If you don’t want to support progressive environmental policies in order to leave behind a livable planet for future generations, at least do it so you have room for bacon in your food budget.