Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

No Fake’in…It’s All About Bacon

There are few things in life that I really am sure of. Well, except for the fact that yes, I just ended a sentence in a preposition and violated sacred grammar law. Somewhere my sixth grade teacher just gasped in pain.  The sky is blue, and I know for a fact I hate certain types of weather. I also know that, while I believe I could live in a world without most kinds of meat and meat products, I do not want to live in a world without bacon. I think many people would agree with me.  After all, bacon memes abound. We’ve created Baconnaise, bacon cupcakes and bacon ice cream for those who just can’t get enough bacon-flavor in their diet from the original pork product alone. Bacon is just that special—I even have a bacon-print wallet I keep my money in when I “bring home the bacon.” If bacon wasn’t important, we’d be proud of “bringing home” something else.

Speaking of “bringing home the bacon,” I recently saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about the proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods (a Virginia-based, mega-conglomerate and producer of bacon) by the Shuanghui International Holdings Group, a Chinese meat producer, for $4.72 billion. The deal will take the world's largest pork producer, with brands such as Armour, Farmland and its namesake, Smithfield, private. (Before anyone asks, there are no closures planned at Smithfield's facilities and locations, including its Smithfield, Va., headquarters.) The deal actually should result in room for the company to grow by connecting the world’s largest producer into the world’s largest market. I feel like I should make a joke here about increasing bacon consumption and a person needing ‘room to grow’, but I’ll hold back because after all, my love of bacon is the real reason I read this article.

Smithfield dwarfs its investment-suitor in revenues but sees a huge upside in gobbling-up a large slab of the international market.  The world must share my perspective about the innate goodness and necessity to consume delicious bacon.

Smithfield would enter that market with a distinct niche and competitive advantage— food safety concerns are high in China and consumers there place high levels of trust in Western products. Score!  Right now, approximately one-fifth of all U.S. exports come from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms.  Whether or not that percentage is high or low is a debate for economists, as is the debate about the merits (or lack thereof) in foreign investment or these types of purchases. I feel pretty confident that it’s probably a good thing. After all, thirty-three percent of the $2.5 trillion in foreign direct investment in the United States supports the manufacturing sector.

When you combine faith in Western quality with the fact that the United States is considered the best place to do business because of our skilled and productive workforce, consistent rule of law, cheap oil and gas, intellectual property protection, world class universities, and entrepreneurial spirit it’s not surprising to see foreign investments of this meaty magnitude occurring.

Some may comment that the American pop-culture craze for bacon is waning if not already on the decline.  I am not so sure.  And, it certainly doesn’t take a wallop to the side of the head with a frying pan to see that the world market for bacon is sizzling.

About the author

Mark Schmit

Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), since 1988, has been committed to strengthening U.S. manufacturing, continually evolving to meet the changing needs of manufacturers. As division chief for regional and state partnerships, Mark is the lead for division policy and has assisted in the development of programs supporting manufacturing and industrial extension technology-based economic development, and entrepreneurship practices with state elected officials and policy makers, including the MEP policy academies, which were designed by MEP and partners to help states build upon existing strategies, leverage available resources, and spur creative new ideas about how to address major challenges or leverage opportunities around the manufacturing sector.  Mark is responsible for developing partnerships with both the public and private sector entities. He was an MEP co-lead for the creation of MFG Day, an outreach program held on the first Friday in October to show students, parents, and the public what modern manufacturing is all about, with growing annual participation across the United States. Mark was a 2001, 2005, 2014, and 2020 recipient of NIST’s George Uriano Award.  The George Uriano Award recognizes outstanding achievements by NIST staff in building and strengthening NIST extramural programs and partnerships.

Related posts


Very interesting (...and honest) article, Mark! The proposed deal is facinating with regard to business strategies and the reasons behind them. More importantly and as you point out, however, it highlights the fact that "made in the USA" remains an affirmation of quality.
I find it interesting that more people aren't concerned with Shuanghui exporting some of its products to the U.S. through Smithfield. Although "made in the USA" is a sign of quality, Chinese products do not carry the same sort of backing. It will be interesting to see what happens with the acquisition and what other concerns are raised down the line...nice work Mark.
What a great and humorous article about a very interesting topic! I agree with the sentiment expressed in this article, but I do believe that ensuring its population's safety should always remain a government priority! Great, fun read
WHAT AN ARTICLE!!! We're all sweating it out over the possibility of a Chinese monopoly and national security and forgetting the absolute priority importance and deliciousness of pork/bacon products. You, sir, are a visionary...

Add new comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Please be respectful when posting comments. We will post all comments without editing as long as they are appropriate for a public, family friendly website, are on topic and do not contain profanity, personal attacks, misleading or false information/accusations or promote specific commercial products, services or organizations. Comments that violate our comment policy or include links to non-government organizations/web pages will not be posted.