Response to Trump’s trade policy has, it’s fair to say, been pretty mixed. Talk of tariffs and wars have helped confuse everybody, plunging the whole of America into a cognitive quagmire of bilateral trade deals and currency manipulation. You could spend the rest of your life looking into the nitty gritty and still not know what’s going on. Small wonder we’re all simultaneously angry and baffled.
As with every issue of international importance, the situation is way too complicated and nuanced to be dismissed as simply either terrible or brilliant. While there have undoubtedly been downsides to Trump’s belligerence, there have also been positives. One of these has been the dawn of what can only be described as a golden age of bacon.
After becoming increasingly pissed off with Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese products, president Xi Jinping and his advisors in Beijing decided to strike back. As part of their own list of heavily tariffed American goods, which included everything from soybeans to Harley Davidson motorcycles, the Chinese government levied against one of America’s most important, yet often under-appreciated exports. Now, thanks to the feud, pork is under the spotlight like never before.
Over the last few decades, America has grown to become one of the world’s largest pork producers. In 2018, the country exported nearly six billion pounds of pork around the world, generating over $6.5 billion for the economy. However, China’s policy, coupled with similar edicts issued by the Mexican government as part of their own dispute, has had a seismic effect on the industry. With the cost of exporting to one of the world’s dominant economic superpowers having exploded, the USA’s own domestic market is now saturated. Exports are much harder to arrange. Consequently, we are all effectively swimming in an invisible sea of pig.
This is where the world’s fast food giants come in. Thanks to the abundance of pork in America, prices have fallen sharply. For domestic businesses and customers, the price of pig is at a near five year low, making it easier than ever to stock up on pork products. We’ve seen the effects for ourselves. It’s the reason why everyone from Wendy’s to McDonald’s is now adding bacon to just about everything on the menu. Without the current trade war with China, there’s no way that the world would ever have got to see bacon on a Big Mac. Whatever you think of the Trump presidency, there have been a few side effects we can all get on board with.
However, as undoubtedly exciting as it is to enjoy the prospect of an unending backlog of cheap bacon, the current boon isn’t all good news. The dramatic drop in prices is unsurprisingly having an impact on America’s more than 60,000 pork producers, forcing them to sell their stock for less and compromising their profits. Many of them have, as a result, been directly critical of the Trump administration’s policy.
For the time being, the frosty relations between the two markets seem to show little signs of thawing. In all likelihood, this means a continuation of our current bacon bonanza for a good while yet. The prospect of bacon on even more fast food is obviously tantalising. Yet, as we pointed out earlier, the plight of farmers proves that there are many sides to something as ostensibly exciting as a Bacon Big Mac.