California restaurants brace for potential pork shortage – Capitol Weekly | weekly capitol

Opinion

Baja-style Chinese cuisine. “Colorful” carnitas. It’s “red pig” in Spanish. (Photo: Shutterstock)

by
LILLY ROCHA
job 17.06.2021

The pandemic swept through the Los Angeles restaurant scene like a tornado, hurting some while devastating others. Forced closures, tough outdoor dining restrictions and devastating job losses have become part of the daily rigors of California restaurateurs.

Now, with potential light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, another issue is likely to hit restaurants. This is called Proposition 12.

Time is up and California consumers are faced with an alarming scenario: a potential pork shortage.

Passed by voters in 2018, Proposition 12 established new animal housing regulations for pigs, calves and laying hens and will come into effect on January 1, 2022. T

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been instructed to release the Proposition 12 guidelines by September 2019 to give those affected ample time to make the necessary compliance changes. Almost two years later, the CDFA has just proposed regulations for public consultation.

Time is up and California consumers are faced with an alarming scenario: a potential pork shortage, as most of the country’s current pork supply (bacon, ham and pork chops) will become illegal for sale in the Golden State. The food supply chain simply doesn’t have enough time to comply – the reason voters gave the initiative two years to make the necessary changes. Now, experts predict that consumers will pay the price.

According to a recent independent analysis conducted by Rabobank, the world leader in market research and analysis for the food industry: “With less than 4% of sow housing in the United States currently able to meet the new norm, Rabobank expects a lack of compliant pork to bifurcate the US market, leaving California with a severe pork deficit (and higher prices), while generating a surplus in the rest of the US market.

Rabobank’s report goes on to note, “Based on California’s current population, which over-indexes pork consumption given its large Latino-Asian populations, Rabobank estimates the state would need at least 255 million pounds of compliant pork per month to meet its retail and food service needs Since only 1.9% of U.S. pork is produced in California, or 45 million pounds per month, we expect the state must import at least 210 million pounds of compliant pork per month from out of state…Based on current production and ongoing projects, Rabobank estimates that compliant pork supplies could be 50% lower to the needs of California should the law be implemented on January 1, 2022.”

The Latino Restaurant Association recently joined the Food Equity Alliance, a statewide coalition of California grocery stores and restaurants, trade organizations, food processors, food equity advocates and consumers, to draw attention to the risks associated with Proposition 12. We call on Gov. Newsom to delay the implementation of Proposition 12 to give the food supply chain time to comply with state regulations.

Pork is something Californians have come to expect as a readily available and affordable product to feed their families. Consumers are used to ordering their favorite pork dish at a restaurant or visiting their local grocery store and finding an abundance of bacon, ham and pork chops. If Governor Newsom does not act, this will no longer be a guarantee.

Editor’s note: Lilly Rocha is executive director of the Latino Restaurant Association

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