Local restaurants feel pinch of rising pork prices

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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ATLANTA - Just as the grilling season gets underway, the price of pork, from bacon to hot dogs and ribs, is climbing due to a shortage of pork supplies.
 
Shane Thompson, founder of Shane’s Rib Shack told Channel 2’s Tom Regan the price spike is hurting his bottom line. Thompson is president of a franchise chain of 72 restaurants. The restaurant buys 458,000 pounds of pork per month.
 
“We are currently paying about 40 percent more right now for pork coming in the door. But we’re not passing that onto our customers. It’s the worst I’ve seen,” Thompson said.
 
The rising cost of pork, and reduction of pork production is linked to a virus that attacks the intestines of pigs and can kill piglets. A 10 to 15 percent decrease in pork production is expected in the coming months as the virus, called PED, has spread to 27 states.
 
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told Channel 2 the virus does not pose a risk to humans and is not a food safety issue. He said the state is stepping up testing of animals imported to Georgia to prevent the virus from moving into the state.
 
“We are retooling our efforts to make sure we’re communicating with producers to abide by those best management practices that have bio security in mind.  We don’t have a case of it in Georgia, and there has not been any indication of that. Taking proactive steps is what we need to do right now,” Black said.
 
A sampling of barbecue customers at a Shane’s restaurant in McDonough found most willing to swallow a price hike to enjoy one of their favorite foods
 
“Bacon is going up. I don’t have a problem paying the higher prices. I will pay them,” said customer Cezanne Hall.
 
Thompson said despite the price hike, he’ll go ahead with the annual tradition of giving away 7,000 racks of ribs on May 17. He’s also planning to open four more restaurants.
 
“Pork is the heart and soul of what we do. We’re still going to give our customers great barbecue with a good value price. You know what? Brighter days are coming. There will be a recovery,” Robinson said.



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