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Data: FactSet, Axios research; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The McRib from McDonald's is a rare beast indeed. U.S. fast-food chains tend to avoid pork, outside of breakfast items, and the McRib hasn't been available nationwide since 2012.

Why it matters: A popular theory holds that the McRib only appears when hog prices hit a low point.

The McRib’s unique aspects and impermanence, many of us believe, make it seem a likely candidate for being a sort of arbitrage strategy .... In this equation, the undervalued good in question is hog meat.
— Willy Staley, The Awl, 2011

Between the lines: The McRib seems to have been consistently introduced at low points in the price of pork — until this year, when the low point came in late June.

  • Note how long it's been, however, since the last McRib rollout. Perhaps it was precisely those low June prices that finally tempted McDonald's back into the pork business.
  • Given the sophistication of commodity markets, it would have been easy for the company to buy pork in June for delivery in December. In which case the company would be entirely agnostic as to the market price today.

Go deeper

Jan 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The Biden team

Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
30 mins ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.