What’s behind the increase in bison prices?

The Canadian bison industry has performed extremely well with bison prices continuing to reach new highs.  Canadian bison prices have remained robust over the last eight years. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Market reports prepared for the Canadian Bison Association indicate prices for bison bulls have increased 162% since 2008 to its current price of around $6.00 per pound.

Two main factors are keeping prices strong:

1. Tight supply

Both Canadian slaughter and live bison exports to the U.S. have declined in 2016 due to a tight domestic supply of animals. Total Canadian slaughter has declined nearly 20% in 2016 compared to 2015 while live bison exports to the U.S. have declined 15%. In contrast, total U.S. bison slaughter has increased only 1% in 2016 compared to 2015.

2. Strong demand

Despite a decline in Canadian slaughter, bison meat exported to the U.S. has increased 49% in 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015 according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) monthly bison report for August 2016.

Increasing demand in ground bison meat

The price impact at the wholesale level has not occurred equally across different bison cuts of meat. Bison tenderloin prices increased approximately 20% - 25% in Canada and the U.S. respectively from 2008 to 2016. During the same time period Canadian ground bison increased over 200%, but U.S. ground bison prices increased by 95%. Most of the increase in the ground bison price in Canada has occurred in 2016, a direct result of the reduced domestic slaughter capacity, increased meat exports to the U.S. and the value of the Canadian dollar. The rising ground bison prices reveal a strong preference for ground bison amongst consumers.