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Australian goatmeat production surges after six-year lull

Staff reporterCountryman
Feral goats in holding yards at Winderie Station in the Gascoyne.
Camera IconFeral goats in holding yards at Winderie Station in the Gascoyne. Credit: Lara Ladyman/Countryman

Australian goatmeat production is finally on the rebound after ongoing drought in the Eastern States caused a six-year decline in national slaughter volumes.

The downward trend in slaughter started in 2015 and continued as adverse environmental conditions affected supply volumes, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

But new MLA figures reveal goatmeat production totaled 20,847 tonnes carcase weight last year — a 34 per cent increase from 2020.

“Several years of drought conditions resulted in smaller flock sizes, flowing on to lower goat slaughter and exports from 2017 to 2020,” MLA’s 2022 Global Goatmeat Snapshot report states.

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“However, widespread rainfall during 2020 and sustained good conditions due to a La Niña weather pattern during 2021 has seen flock numbers increase.

“The rise in production reflects an increase in the number of animals as well as heavier animals, resulting in heavier carcase weights”

WA pastoral lease goats await slaughter bound for the US market.
Camera IconWA pastoral lease goats await slaughter bound for the US market. Credit: Greg Burke/WA News

In the Eastern States — where the bulk of production takes place — slaughter increased 42 per cent last year led by Queensland (401,570 head) and Victoria (394,711 head).

After reaching record levels in 2019, over-the-hooks pricing remained historically high in 2021, averaging 859¢/kg cwt for the year.

Increased production led to a surge in goatmeat exports, with the national total increasing by nearly 4900t to hit 19,046t.

Total exports last year were valued at $242 million — up 67 per cent on 2020.

Top exporting State Victoria shipped 10,882t, followed by QLD (5732t), South Australia (1680), NSW (441t) and WA (311t).

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of goatmeat despite being only a minor producer in a global context.

“Despite pandemic-related disruptions across distribution and sales channels, demand for Australian goatmeat in international markets is strong, driving annual export unit prices to record highs,” MLA said.

“The US remains by far the most important market for Australian goatmeat.

“South Korea has overtaken Taiwan for the first time to be Australia’s second-largest destination. Canada, Trinidad and Tobago complete the top five.”

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