Wednesday, 29 January 2020 11:32

What about the potential of goat meat exports?

Written by  Garrick Batten
NZ meat exporters have not capitalised on the growing Northern American demand for goat meat. NZ meat exporters have not capitalised on the growing Northern American demand for goat meat.

Long-time goat industry advocate Garrick Batten questions why NZ meat exporters have not capitalised on the inbuilt and growing Northern American demand for goat meat.

This is despite goat meat's historically increasing prices. He also asks is why NZ pastoral farmers have not capitalised on the on-farm production advantages to produce that goat meat?

China already has the world’s biggest sheep flock; sheepmeat is well known so NZ product sales – especially mutton – have grown rapidly in recent years. 

There are as many goats as sheep in China, all ending up as meat that is interchangeable with sheepmeat in the market. But our Chinese trade never mentions goat meat.

The USA that is now our second most valuable red meat market, with sheepmeat exports up 12% and nearly $NZ 3 per kg for year ending. September 2019. Last October, average price per kg was NZ$18.97 compared with China’s $NZ 9.32 – although products are not directly comparable. 

The US sheep flock is slowly declining – as it’s goat herd, which supplies only half market demand. Similarly; our US meat trade never mentions goat meat. 

Average Australian 2019 goat meat over–the–hooks (OTH) carcase price was $A7.90 per kg for 8.1+ kgs. In December, it was $A8.22. Thomas Foods Intl – Australia’s largest meat exporter – offered $A9 per kg for 6.1+ kg – down from $10 last spring. (Currently, the NZ schedule is around $NZ5.50 for 8.1kg+). 

The importance of the USA and similar Canadian markets and opportunities for goat meat deserves closer scrutiny – particularly as Thomas Foods targets these markets. 

In November 2019, USDA retail market average $US prices per lb for three typical grassfed goat products were bone-in-leg: 13.33; stew meat: 12.30; ground meat: 11.26. This compared with grass-fed lamb at 13.73; 13.85 and 13.01 respectively. These retail prices indicate similar buyer interest and prices for the two products. 

The current US sheep situation reflects cancellation of the mohair subsidy by an earlier Democratic government, which removed angora goats from the main production area of Texas and other southern states. These have been gradually replaced by hair sheep – now quoted separately from wool sheep at auction. 

In May last year, lightweight slaughter hair lambs sold for 3.5% premium over wool breeds. However, similar weight kids sold for a 25% premium over hair lambs. In October, the premium was 29%. 

This means that a 25kg liveweight, good store condition kids sold for average $US5.87 per kg. This reflects an average industry live sale price for well-conditioned kids during 2019 of about $US3 per lb to produce those retail prices. Canadian live sale prices are similar.

The North American goat meat market shortfall is filled mainly by Australian imports of larger carcases than smaller 11-15 kg carcases preferred by Hispanic and other ethnic consumers, which NZ can supply from feral-based stock. Although Australia exported about twice as much lamb as goat meat to USA last year, its goat meat exports were 20 times those from NZ at much higher prices.

About the author

Garrick Batten has a long professional and practical career in all goat sectors. He has delivered papers at local and international conferences on various goat topics and written extensively, including several goat books. The latest is Big Buck$ for Pastoral Farmers, written specially for livestock farmers new to commercial goat farming.

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