Australia’s goat meat industry has seen an encouraging spike in prices in recent weeks, on the back of poor seasonal conditions and its impact upon production.
Over-the-hook prices have reached record highs, jumping from 680c/kg to more than $10/kg carcase weight in recent weeks.
Poor seasonal conditions over recent years have impacted on production, while recent rainfall events in the eastern states have made many goat producers retain stock for breeding. Tightening herd numbers and reduced slaughter rates have forced buyers to improve prices to maintain supply to overseas customers.
Almost half of all Australian produced goat meat is shipped overseas, with 67% of exports bound for the US. The export market continues to feel the pinch of restricted supply, with exports in 2019 totalling 6700 tonnes, 30% lower than the same period in 2018.
US focus for TFI
Thomas Foods International (TFI) have recently offered producers a record $10 / kg for 6.1kg plus carcass weight goats for stock delivered to their Lobethal facility in South Australia.
The price reflects the strong overseas demand for goat meat, with TFI capitalising on a successful existing agreement to sell Angus beef and premium lamb cut products to a major US retailer.
“Because of our strong presence with our beef and lamb we have been able to leverage off that to gain the support of one of the major retailers in North America to take a substantial goat position with us,” said TFI’s national small stock manager, Paul Leonard.
“It’s on favourable terms and we are passing that on down into the Australian supply chain.”
As well as facilitating the increase in the amount of goat meat sold to the US market, TFI are also producing value added products to capitalise on consumer demand. Traditionally sold on a commodity basis, TFI is now introducing specific cuts and ready-to-eat portions at their Swedesboro facility in New Jersey.
“A lot of processors would just be sending cartons of six-way frozen goat, but we’ve gone to the next level with further value-adding and doing some branding of the product in our value-adding facility in Swedesboro for the retailer, to extract maximum value.”
TFI also handles packaging and branding – including recipe suggestions and cooking tips – making their goat meat products both shelf-ready and customer friendly.
“We are starting to see now that demand for goat meat is becoming more mainstream, domestically and internationally – it’s not just certain segments of the population.
“That is what is driving the demand, and the fact that we are educating our consumers on how to prepare and cook goat and they are enjoying the eating experience and they’re telling their friends.”
According to Mr Leonard, further investment in fencing for goat producers would help the industry to keep up with demand and capitalise on a strong position.
“There are many people in the western division of New South Wales that are going into goats as their primary operation, moving out of wool-growing into goats.”