Australia’s domestic goat market goes gangbusters in global pandemic with Queensland ‘leading the way’

Graziers and processors are no longer riding on the sheep’s back, as many look to the domestic goat market to save them from the global pandemic downturn.

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on worldwide supply chains, forcing processors to pivot to domestic markets for opportunities.

Over the past 12 months, the domestic goat market in Australia has been going from strength to strength and Queensland has played a big role in the rise.

Campbell McPhee, from Western Meat Exporters, a goat and sheep meat processing facility in Charleville in western Queensland, said the switch had been surprisingly successful.

“When the pandemic really hit in late February into March [2020], we had a bit of concern about uptake and delay of delivery in the export market overseas … so we started looking at home,” Mr McPhee said.

“Surprisingly, we found the interest for fresh meat into Brisbane was there and, as we started to supply, we had more and more customers come forward in greater volume.”

Goats in a set of yards at a sale.
Queensland is playing a big part in the country’s goat success.(ABC Western Queensland: Maddelin McCosker)

Mr McPhee said the increase in interest from metro markets allowed the facility to reconfigure to meet the new market demands.

“We redesigned parts of the plant so we could do a lot more fresh product and do a weekly delivery into Brisbane,” he said.

“It was something we hadn’t considered because our export market had been so strong.”

A man dressed in a white coat and hairnet stands beside hanging goat carcases.
Western Meat Exporters’ Managing Director Campbell McPhee says he is surprised by the domestic demand for goat meat.(ABC Rural: Andrea Crothers)

Mr McPhee said Queensland’s goat industry was one of the country’s strongest and graziers in the state would see the benefits for years to come.

“I think we’ll become a nursery for other states who look to get back into goats and Queensland graziers will reap the rewards of belief in the industry.”

Can Australia meet world demands?

Goat export and small ruminant consultant Sam Usher said the recent downturn in sheep and wool markets could have opened the door for the goat industry and it is continuing to rise.

“Up until the last few years, the export market has been quite lucrative as far as the farmgate price goes,” Mr Usher said.

“In the last couple of years, the domestic market has gotten really interested in buying goats and re-stockers have been buying them, so the money between the two has evened out.

The plus side to that is they’ve [graziers] learnt the goats are really good to run, they’re highly fertile and they adapt easily to different areas.”

Goat meat being processed at Western Meat Exporters.
Western Meat Exporters processes around 3,000 head per day and is eyeing the growing goat market.(Supplied )

Value is rising

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the value of Australian goat meat exports rose 29 per cent in 2019 to $235.7 million, according to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Australia was the largest exporter of goat meat, despite accounting for 1 per cent of global production.

A herd of goats grazing on a farm outside Charleville.
Sam Usher thinks the high international demand for goats is good for breeders and processors.(Supplied: David Jones)

Mr Usher said while Australia did not currently have the herd numbers to meet international demand, the future looked promising for domestic and international markets.

“The demand for goat meat globally is so huge and I can’t see the price coming back because I believe we just don’t have enough goats here to supply the markets that are out there,” he said.

“That’s a plus for our producers here in Australia. We can just keep breeding more and more.”

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