New calculator designed to boost pig price transparency

As pork producers continue to struggle with slumping prices, Alberta Pork and the Canadian Pork Council have launched an online calculator aimed at increasing transparency in how pigs in Western Canada are priced.

The calculator uses pricing formula data compiled in-house by Alberta Pork, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture mandatory reporting, which is also the basis for Canadian pig pricing formulas.

“Producers can enter their own information, which then creates a hypothetical comparison between contracts for most western Canadian packers and formulas used in Ontario and Quebec,” says Bijon Brown, Alberta Pork’s production economist. “This information has been provided in our Economics web section to support producer success by providing the necessary tools for effective financial decision-making.”

The provincial pork associations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and B.C. have been urging processors to change how prices are determined in western provinces.

In mid-May, B.C. Pork, Alberta Pork, Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork issued a joint invitation to Maple Leaf Foods, Olymel and Donald’s Fine Foods to discuss the challenges faced by producers in Western Canada and “to work for solutions that generate shared value for producers and processors.” The letter drew attention to major discrepancies between pricing formulations of hogs between provinces that can add up to a price difference of $100 per animal.

Representatives from the provincial associations have since met with Allan Leung, CEO of Donald’s Fine Foods, and his executive team, along with Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods and his executive staff. The groups say they are hopeful a meeting can also be arranged with Olymel representatives.

“More than ever, Canadian pig producers are looking for increased transparency so that they can be better informed as to how their prices are formulated,” says Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director of Alberta Pork. “With greater transparency on the pricing side, producers can effectively manage their businesses, which is a crucial step toward ensuring the continued financial viability of the entire Canadian pork sector.”

You can find the new calculator here.

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