(WBIR - Madisonville) Allan Benton, owner of Benton's Country Ham, knows a thing or two about pork. After all, many restaurants in East Tennessee and others across the country brag about having Benton's bacon on their menu. But just last week, Benton was forced to raise his prices.
"When I looked at my books I knew I couldn't survive and I had to raise prices," he said.
A deadly virus never seen before in the U.S. is being blamed for the pork price hike. The mysterious illness is from China and has swept through 27 states and has killed millions of piglets in less than a year. Little is known about how the virus spreads or how to stop it. There are no reports of the virus infecting people or other animals.
Benton said pork prices have gone up by about 40 percent in the last three months.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a pound of bacon averaged $5.46 in February 2014. In February 2013, that same pound of bacon was $4.83. That's a 13 percent increase.
"I've never seen prices go up quite this fast or anywhere near this high before. I've been in business now for 41 years and it's unlike anything I've ever seen," Benton said.
Benton believes consumers could continue seeing the increased pork prices through next year.