State hoping for goat bonanza

Rebecca TurnerCountryman

Goat meat prices are at an all-time high, as the sheep-shortage boosts goat demand from both domestic and export markets.

Australian goat prices averaged 345c/kg across the eastern states in the first quarter of 2011, although figures for WA goat abattoirs were not available.

The price hike equated to a 43 per cent increase year-on-year and a 62 per cent increase on the five-year average.

This was despite the Australian dollar breaking parity and an exchange rate differential throughout the quarter of around 15c on last year.

The industry has predicted prices will remain relatively high throughout the year.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) manager of goat industry development Blair Brice said there were huge opportunities in the Australian goat meat industry at present, and WA was in a position to take advantage of short supply and high prices.

Many markets around the world view goat meat as a viable and exchangeable substitute for mutton and, with supplies of mutton remaining tight, demand for goat remains strong.

But Mr Brice said with just two export abattoirs in WA processing goat meat — Geraldton Meat Exports and Beaufort River Meats — lack of processor competition was holding the industry back.

Mr Brice said the development of goat depots in New South Wales and Queensland had seen prices improve to what now was based on a weight for grade rate, but such depots were not developed in WA and processors were mostly paying on a per head basis.

“The eastern states have large depots where they draft goats delivered off into weight ranges,” he said.

“Processors and live exporters can then ring these depots for an order of goats, whereas in WA, processors and exporters are very dependent on a producer turning up at their door with a line of goats or buying off-farm.”

The United States remains the dominant market for Australian goat meat, accounting for 60 per cent of all exports.

“Taiwan is the next biggest market, followed by the Caribbean,” Mr Brice said.

He said WA pastoralists did a good job with rangeland goats, as did pastoralists in Queensland and New South Wales, with this type of goat meat making up most export sales.

“Some areas of the WA pastoral industry have had a good start to the season, however, it has been nothing compared to the great season being experienced in the eastern states,” he said.

“Those in the industry are very confident that the next three to five years will be very strong.”

Mr Brice said MLA would be holding a goat industry day in Perth this June to link butchers, retailers, restaurants and producers in a bid to strengthen supply chains.

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