EMAILED ON February 21, 2018 BY Mia Hagerty

What’s that smell? Ham — and a booming Spanish economy

Spain’s economic prosperity can be illustrated through one metric: the 40% price increase in Iberian ham since last year.

The growth of luxury good markets like cars, real estate, and restaurants is a typical benchmark for economic growth, and in Spain, those luxury items include ham bones: a high-quality Iberian ham leg costs around $616.

What’s so fancy about this ham?

Iberian ham prices are so high, in part, because it comes from the vegans of pigs.

They’re raised on a strangely specific diet of acorns, need at least 200k square feet of grazing land, and the meat takes 36 months to cure.

Hence you can find the highest grade, “black-label” ham from pure-bred Iberian pigs going for $900 a leg ($57 a pound) on eBay and, for the low low price of $25, a special “ham cover” for your prized hamhock.

Savory, marbled economic growth

Through the 1990’s, the Spanish economy grew steadily, but after the housing market collapse, the economy shrunk by 8% with unemployment rising to 27%. But today the economy is back on track, with the price of  acorn-stuffed Wilbur growing in stead.

And the Spanish economy isn’t the only thing on the rise; the European Union’s GDP also grew 2.4% over the past year, it’s fastest pace in a decade. As long as this trajectory continues, keep expecting to pay top dollar for your Spanish bacon.