A steady tightening of the pig supply in the UK and on the continent will continue to push up asking prices to curers. But after more than two years of cheap rashers, it remains to be seen how multiple buyers will react to requests for any increase to cover the difference. Spending on bacon is up by 3.3% year on year, according to TN Sofres data for the 52 weeks ending April 2 this year, although household purchases of rashers dropped to just below 70% of the total bacon market. But even in a slightly smaller rasher market, back bacon continues its sustained growth, now taking over 80% of rasher sales by value and 73% by volume. By focusing demand ever more tightly within the carcase, the trend will continue to skew any balance there may have been in the way the carcase is used. Sales of bacon joints are improving, in both value and volume. These are starting from a small base ­ 33,000t a year ­ but the 16% growth in sales value is driven by penetration, according to a Danish manufacturing source. The business has been generated by a 14% lift in household penetration, which contrasts sharply with a decline in both chops and steaks, which have seen a 13% decline in the number households buying them. "It remains to be seen whether they are trading up to joints or coming from somewhere else entirely." The trend also applies to rashers, in which pre-packed retail sizes have seen a 2.6% decline in penetration. It will need some very solid promotional work to bring home the bacon for the rasher market. {{PROVISIONS }}