He's buying our fatback. Ours costs more than the stuff from Spain, but he says ours is of higher quality than the imported stuff.
I asked him for more info. What I learned: the Iberico fatback has more gristle in it than ours, and it doesn't melt as nicely on the tongue. But, the price of the stuff, delivered, is under $2/lb.
$2/lb delivered sounds cheap, until you consider that the iberico bellota fatback is a by-product of an extremely efficient pig production and global logistics system.**
The first lardo I've seen from Iberico fatback is here. I would guess that if the stuff takes off and more processors start making it, the spread between the raw material and the finished product ought to shrink quite a bit.
* Former Soviet Union: Russian, Ukrainian, Baltic, etc.
** As explained in "Considerations on ethics and animal welfare in extensive pig production: Breeding and fattening Iberian pigs":
The extensive pig production in Spain is traditionally characterised by: the use of the Iberian pig, an autochthonous breed perfectly integrated into the environment in which they have developed; a long duration of the productive cycle for about 23–24 months; a high level of animal welfare level, specially in the fattening process with freedom of movement and feeding base on natural sources: acorns and grass, and an equilibrated “dehesa” agro-forestry system where this activity has been developed. Nowadays, the introduction of more intensificated methods due to the increasing demand led to important changes, such as: the shortening of the productive cycle (10–12 months); freeing from the territorial base; changes during the fattening period, fattening with mixed feed and less animal freedom. All these facts may implicate a loss of the animal welfare condition. These circumstances lead us to question it from an ethical point of view.