The new feature, Price Discovery, is on offer to any user who has signed up for a free account, said Brennan Turner, CEO and president of the company. “We don’t think that price transparency is exclusive,” he added.
The service offers those selling grain and feed ingredients a current and historical look at prices for specific products in different regions of Canada and the US, he said. It also offers data on the futures market.
“It gives a little perspective on what the price would be back to the farm gate,” he told FeedNavigator. “It is entirely meant to drive the farmer to be aware of, ‘yes this is good price.’”
The program was intended to offer a convenient format for farmers looking to sell grain or feed ingredients by collating cash grain data and providing a free market snapshot, the company said.
There is an amount of price transparency in the grain and feed ingredient market, said Turner. However, “what is less transparent is to give the producer perceptive relative to where they’ve been,” he added.
“For example, in the wheat market if they were to say, ‘Prices are way too low,’ but if you give perspective on where they were a year ago, or two months ago, that might give them a better perspective,” he said.
The goal is to add more information to what is already available, tailor it to farmers or ingredient producer’s locations and shipping costs, he said. Having market information is one more tool for producers establishing a grain-marketing plan.
“You have to think about the quality of the grain, you have to think about market insights – where they’ve been, where they’re going,” he said. “This is just a natural evolution – as we take this online, or digital, at the end of the day, we’re providing the most robust platform to maximize their grain marketing plan regardless of where they’re in North America. Now we’re adding value around that significant product.”
Grain market focus
The market data offered is focused on grain and feed ingredient markets in the US and Canada, said Turner. Information is offered in relation to a reference city selected by the user.
“We take that reference city of your location and look at all the data points up to around 250 miles,” he said. The system is able to highlight what the prices in the region are potentially compared with those farther away and offers a chart of prices from low to high, he added.
The program also offers historical data to provide context around current prices, he said. The trend data can show how the current prices compare with what has been established and how the price has moved over time.
At this point, the system pulls information from around 9,000 data points and is designed up update daily, he said.
“That list is expected to grow in the next few months as we start feeding in other data points,” said Turner. “The price discovery tool is going to get stronger and stronger, so there might be gaps in the early days.”
The system has started by looking at feed and grain crops like corn, oats and sorghum that have futures prices, he said. However, it is expanding to include information for more specialty crops like flax and pulses.
A complex question is why some areas or parts of the market are willing to pay more for a commodity than others, Turner said. By offering the regional information the grain price feature may help producers find where opportunities exist or suggest other grains that might offer value.
“It gives price transparency in the grain markets and not just specific to farmers in a 20-30-50 miles area around them,” he said. “Is there something a little better a little further away that I’m willing to truck for?”
The feature was designed as part of the online grain sales site’s effort to respond to users, said Turner.
Previously, the site had launched an aggregation service pulling together different grain testing companies.
“We’re building the most robust online grain marketing system,” he said. “We’re making farmers better at understating the quality of the grain, or the prices and where they’ve been or where they’re going to be.”