Livestock app addresses key issues

Livestock Pricing operations manager Gavin Bignell (left), with Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) partner Michael Swift at the Agribusiness Australia networking breakfast at the SPB office at Perth last week.
Livestock Pricing operations manager Gavin Bignell (left), with Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) partner Michael Swift at the Agribusiness Australia networking breakfast at the SPB office at Perth last week.

PRICE discovery and a lack of trust are issues of concern within the livestock industry according to Livestock Pricing operations manager Gavin Bignell.

Mr Bignell's comment was made in front of about 20 people at the Agribusiness Australia networking breakfast at the office of Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) in Perth last week as he presented the Livestock Pricing app as a way to help resolve the price discovery issue.

SPB partner Michael Swift is a member of Agribusiness Australia and offered to host an event to assist the organisation reach a greater audience in WA.

Mr Swift said SPB serviced clients such as Macquarie Bank which had major investments in agriculture across WA.

Mr Bignell said the app had come under criticism from some parts of the livestock industry when it was initially created because people thought they were trying to do away with agents.

He said that was inaccurate.

"At the end of the day agents provide value," Mr Bignell said.

He said the app simply offered more information for all parties in the supply chain to make better decisions.

"Information is always valuable, it helps you make better decisions and we believe just by putting this out there processors, agents and growers are making better decisions - just by understanding where the market is and who's paying for what," he said.

Mr Bignell said they were aiming to provide better information in the future.

"Our challenge is always to get the right information in the format that is usable for our users," he said.

"The app provides the ability to do that.

"Increased profitability will come with better information."

Mr Bignell said it provided lower risk as markets were driven by supply and demand.

"They ebb and flow a bit and what is happening in the livestock market at the moment across most parts of Australia is the market is very hot," he said.

"There's a lack of livestock and processors are having to pay a lot of money for it.

"The big issue is just getting enough product through their plants to keep them running.

"In the Eastern States there are plants that have begun to slow down - they have put off shifts or have shut down for a two-week period because just getting the livestock has been challenging."

Mr Bignell stood in for Livestock Pricing founder and director Rob Kelly who was busy at the Southern Dirt TECHSPO at Wagin and Katanning last week.

Mr Kelly developed the idea for the app after working on similar technology in grain.

The app now has 5000 users across Australia with 25 per cent of users from WA.

"It gives us confidence that there is a gap in the market and price discovery is absolutely an issue in the livestock industry," Mr Bignell said.

He said an "interesting observation" they found about the industry was that "there is a general lack of trust" partly because "everyone is holding information quite tightly".

Mr Bignell said they see "a competitive advantage" in doing so, even though "between an agent and a grower there can be a lack of trust".

"The agent says to the grower this is where the market is and they sort of believe them but don't quite believe them," he said.

"Just having a base line like this of where the price is for certain products and certain weight ranges, and getting rid of that noise, then you can have constructive conversations around what you should be doing in your business."

He said there were three general misconceptions about price discovery some of which the business was "still grappling with" including that it weakens relationships, if it didn't have all the prices it was no help, and "it won't get rid of agents".

Mr Bignell said the app was a non transaction platform.