Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Question from the web: How do I find out what pork prices are in my area?


 From a planning perspective, how can I see what pork is selling for locally and what markets are out there?
I understand that selling at auction is the quickest way to lose money, but I would like to have some hard numbers for planning.

Pricing is difficult for farmers.  It can be difficult to figure out what a reasonable price is, and it's especially difficult when you compare the meat prices in a grocery store with your own cost to produce.

When I'm looking for price information, I'm interested in both retail and wholesale prices.

Wholesale prices are the price you might sell to if you sold to a local meat shop, for instance. Call one near you and see if they buy animals from farmers directly. They may not, but ask who they buy from, and follow that chain. Sometimes you'll find that the local shops will not buy anything from local producers, but keep trying and you'll find out what the pork supply chain is like in your area.

A second source of wholesale prices is auction results. The national auction results reported in farmer newspapers like the capitol press are usually (for Washington markets) unbelievably low. Like a 100lb side of lean pork selling for $40. My hard cost (Animal cost + feed cost. ) to raise that same pork is $90-105. I have no idea how they can stay in business with prices that low, but that's what you'll see if you look at the national press.   To make the farm an ongoing concern I have to add land, equipment and labor, so I end up with a cost of around $180 per side.

A more meaningful result is the sales numbers reported from a local animal auction. In washington state I use the toppenish auction market results page, which you'll find on their website, here: Fat hogs are selling for $50-65 this week. Again, if I sold pigs at those prices I'd be out of business. I don't pursue the wholesale market at all.

Retail prices I get from three sources. your local craigslist (I use this one ) and do a search for "pigs" or "pork". there's probably one near you, or if not, find the nearest one.

The second source for retail pork prices is your local farmers market. find the folks selling pork and ask 'em.

The third is the localvore internet folks. Do a search on something like or for farms near you and check their prices.
You're welcome.


Matt said...

You mean not right?

Bruce King said...

Thank you; corrected it.