Tools for Pricing Freezer Beef and Pork

Have you ever asked how much a freezer full of beef or pork will cost? Do you struggle to convert the live animal value to a carcass based price? Michigan State University-Extension and the University of Wisconsin-Extension have teamed up to develop a spreadsheet worksheet and video to answer these questions.

The Freezer Beef Pricing Worksheet is available to assist beef producers and buyers in determining the price of direct marketed beef. This tool also has a video available to give producers additional information in using the worksheet. Both are free to use, available at: https://fyi.uwex.edu/wbic/direct-marketing-information/  Although examples are given producers are encouraged to enter actual costs and information based off of their own operation into the worksheet. Monthly average price values reported by the USDA Economic Research Service can be used to create figures to share with customers for overall savings value when purchasing beef by the whole, half or quarter.  A link to the USDA data is included with the spreadsheet.

Important considerations when using the worksheet include understanding the type of beef animal being processed (steer vs. heifer and beef breed or dairy breed). These differences influence the dressing percentage and estimated yield grade of the animal. Accurate figures or estimates entered into the worksheet result in more accurate results for overall yield and cost per pound of beef in the freezer. If producers have any historical data from their own animals and previous sales or processing, use those values to customize the worksheet for your own operation.

Many of the same principals apply to pricing whole, half, or quarters for pork, and are incorporated into the Freezer Pig Pricing Worksheet.  This worksheet is available for free at: https://fyi.uwex.edu/swineextension/tools/

While buying freezer beef or pork can pose a large upfront cost for the consumer, it can offer many benefits and savings in the long run.  It allows buyers to have a greater connection to where their food comes from, insight into the practices used to raise that animal, input into how they want their meat processed, and more.  In many cases, both the buyer and the farmer can benefit.  By buying and selling in bulk and avoiding retail markups, sellers can ask for a higher price, while the buyer still saves compared to retail prices.

Our area is fortunate to have several local locker plants and artisan meat processors.  It’s important for buyers and sellers to coordinate with their chosen processor.  The results are often worth it, with your choice of high quality beef and pork raised locally, prepared by local award winning processors, and at competitive prices.