Getting the goat: Australia struggling to meet soaring demand for goat meat
Last year, the country produced more than 31,000 tonnes carcass weight of goat and shipped 90% abroad, equivalent to 28,426 tonnes. The remainder is sold on the domestic market, where rising immigration from parts of Asia where goat is popular has brought a growing taste for the meat.
Julie Petty, goat industry project manager at Meat and Livestock Australia, an industry group that promotes beef, lamb and goat meat in domestic and international markets, said domestic market is growing, albeit off a small base.
She believes the domestic market’s potential could be worth an additional A$13m (US$9.3m) to the industry.
“We have a mix of both anecdotal evidence and a little bit of data that is indicating that the domestic market is increasing in its interest of the product,” Petty said. “The producers are getting a lot more enquiries from butchers, restaurants and foodservice operators for goat meat products.”
Highlighting the disparity between exports and domestic availability she added: “There is certainly a market but purely because of the supply constraints at the present time, it’s not a really obvious market.
“Because of these constraints, we have to be very careful about how we go out and promote the products and talk about their availability so there’s not the expectation that you can go out to market and get it every day.”
Last year, MLA set out a strategy to further boost demand across Australia, after commissioning a survey that identified new markets beyond consumers who traditionally include goat meat in their diets.
The plan will focus on ways to add value through “new cooking technologies and well-conceived meal solutions”.
Petty said there was the potential to lift the profile of goat meat among Australian consumers to the same level as other secondary animal proteins such as salmon, tuna, mussels, duck, kangaroo, turkey and venison.
“In the last 20 years, several secondary proteins have risen to prominence beyond the restaurant scene, to become mainstays of supermarket offerings, where most Australians buy their meat,” said Petty.
“There are lessons from the success of secondary proteins that goat meat can learn from and adapt to grow demand while remaining true to the product’s qualities and character.”
At the same time, MLA hopes to increase the number of goats available to the domestic market by persuading farmers that breeding more of the ruminants would be profitable for them.
“Goats are smaller, faster growing animals and you get turnaround much more quickly than cattle just because they are smaller with different lifespans and different reproduction cycles,” said Petty.
“I’ve been involved in the goat industry for as long as I can remember—my parents had goats on our property from the year dot. It’s a very interesting and versatile product.”