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Pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig. Pork belly is popular in Asian cuisine, and forms a part of many traditional European dishes such as the Alsatian Choucroute garnie, the Swiss Berner Platte (de), and the German Schlachtplatte. In the United States, bacon is most often made from pork bellies.
A 100-gram serving of pork belly typically has about 520 calories. The calorie breakdown is: 92% fat (53 g), 0% (0 g) carbohydrates, and 8% (9 g) protein.
This cut of meat is enormously popular in Chinese cuisine and Korean cuisine. In Chinese cuisine, it is usually diced, browned then slowly braised with skin on, or sometimes marinated and cooked as a whole slab. Pork belly is used to make Slowly Braised Pork Belly (紅燒肉) or Dongpo pork (東坡肉) in China (Sweet and Sour Pork is made with pork fillet). Koreans cook Samgyeopsal on a grill with garlic, often accompanied by soju. Uncured whole pork belly has more recently become a popular dish in restaurants in the United States as well.
Inaugurated in 1961, the pork belly futures contract was iconic for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and futures trading in general, becoming a staple of the futures market in popular media (such as the 1974 movie For Pete's Sake and the 1983 movie Trading Places). In recent years it became amongst the least-traded contracts on the CME, and was eventually delisted for trading by the CME on July 18, 2011.
The unit of trading was 20 short tons (40,000 lb or 18,000 kg) of frozen, trimmed bellies. Pork bellies can be kept in cold storage for an extended period of time, and generally it was the frozen bellies that were most actively traded.
Trading in frozen pork belly futures was developed as a risk management device to meet the needs of meat packers who processed pork and had to contend with volatile hog prices, as well as price risks on processed products held in inventory. The futures contracts were useful in guiding inventories and establishing forward pricing. Bellies typically weigh around 6 kg (13 lb).
Spot prices vary depending on the amount of inventory in cold storage and the seasonal demand for bacon as well as the origin of the pork; in the past, the former drove the prices of the futures as well.