May 23, 2012: Bacon

Like many Americans, I love bacon. And now that I’m dieting (yet again!) I can’t stop thinking about it. Since I can’t have any right now, I’m going to have to content myself with telling you all the ways you can bring home the bacon—almost literally.

Last month my friend and reporter extraordinaire Heather Clancy reported on the Intuit Small Business Blog that, according to the National Pork Board, last year sales of bacon products were up 11.2 percent, reaching an astounding $2.44 billion in annual revenues.

For the past several years savvy entrepreneurs have been adding bacon to a variety of products, ranging from really yummy chocolate (Vosges Haut-Chocolat) to bandages, candy canes (I gave these as gifts last Christmas) and even vodka. (I bet bacon vodka makes a really tasty Bloody Mary.)

Bacon is so popular that Katrina Markoff, founder and owner of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, told Clancy she estimates her bacon-related chocolate products “generate a couple of million dollars in sales annually.”

If you want to get in the bacon game, Clancy says you should keep these tips in mind:

1. Don’t worry if you’re selling locally, and not nationally. While Southern consumers (per the National Pork Board) eat about 600 million pounds of bacon a year, folks in the Northeast and central parts of the U.S. more than do their part by consuming some 400 million pounds respectively.

2. Everyone loves bacon. Clancy says Vosges Haut-Chocolat landed more male customers when it added its bacon chocolate line. Another smart target market is those who are eating healthy. While that sounds counterintuitive, Clancy says health-conscious consumers who crave the taste of bacon, but try not to eat too much of the real thing, are buying a lot of the bacon-flavored goods.

3. You’re going to have to do government work. Depending on what you’re making, Clancy says you will have to deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration or other appropriate government agency.

You don’t have to make bacon to benefit from it. If you own a restaurant, you can’t go wrong adding bacon to several of your menu items. Retailers (on and offline) could add bacon-related products to their inventories.