Marketing the meat : goat is a four-letter word


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Marketing the meat : goat is a four-letter word
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Degner, Robert L.
Florida Agricultural Market Resource Center, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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M" ;*.. THE EAT

Goat is a Four-Letter Word

Dr. Robert L. ..,.... :
Professor and Director
Florida :: ;.: .. Market Research Center
Department of Food and Resource Economics
University of Florida


As a : boy from a part of the U.S. where the tough old woods goat
is the norm, it is indeed a pleasure and an honor to be asked to appear on
your program. Just so I wouldn't embarrass myself too badly with my lack of
knowledge about cashmere, I looked it up in my Websters New Colleiate
Dictionary. Right there on :i.... : I found it, right between "cash-in" and
"cash register." After :: I .. to numerous ... ._ -.: .. groups in recent
years, I must tell you that it is a rarity to be surrounded by so much cash!
before you get too :'-.: with the thought of all that cash, keep in
mind that one word beyond cash register is . :,," as in "a place to
gamble," followed by "cask," an item which usually contains ..- spirits in
which to drown your sorrows. The next word is .- .. ," and we won't even
discuss that one.

My goal today is to share with you some research results that can help
.take the casino element out of your cashmere production by doing a better
job of : -'.i': the meat. Over the past three or four years, several of us
at the University of Florida have studied the marketing of goat meat, and we
are optimistic that it offers : ..-;". for increased sales and increased


Research in recent years has focused on two broad areas: market
channels and consumers. Elements of the marketing channels included
livestock auctions and dealers, meat wholesalers, food retailers, and
restaurants. Consumer research began with focus group interviews in Tampa
and Jacksonville, which explored basic attitudes toward goat meat and
culminated with 600 consumers -: 1::- barbecued goat with beef. Each major
phase of our research is discussed below.


Initial research examined marketing activities at the first level beyond

the farm gate. :..: of all livestock auctions in north and central

Florida were interviewed, ..-. with livestock dealers that were identified

as .-..: '..-; significant numbers of meat goats. Auction managers reported

that many goats were sold directly to individuals, presumably for slaughter;

they :i, .::' that such sales were particularly brisk around major holi'- .

Several "-'; .-.. livestock dealers handling goats were found to be buying

goats from local auctions, transporting them to the T.. and Orlando areas,

and :.:. them until they could be sold on-the-hoof to individuals.

Dealers also reported that most sales occurred near holidays. According to

dealers, most sales were to ethnic customers, primarily American blacks,

S-.-, and Haitians. Here in the southwest and west, it is likely that

significant numbers of goats are also sold on-the-hoof to ethnic groups,

primarily Hispanics and American blacks. We have found that on-the-hoof

sales to individual consumers or to small scale dealers, while sometimes time

consuming, can be a more -. t-t ": alternative than the commercial market.

Further, the commercial market can be '... '.. if slaughter plants are

located too far away to provide an economical alternative.

Based upon the survey of auction managers and independent dealers in

T :.' we concluded that few, if any, locally ::- r goats were entering

traditional commercial marketing channels. Our next surveys sought to learn

more about goat meat sales in the commercial market, i.e., sales by meat

wholesalers and food retailers.


Because of the large concentrations of ethnic populations in Dade,

Broward and -.' -ough counties, these areas were selected for telephone

surveys of meat wholesalers and food retailers. ... Yllow Pages and

Chain Store Guide's -::: -- -- -

Qhaing were used to : .. the firms headquartered or operating within the

three counties.

Of 164 meat wholesalers interviewed, only 24 (15 percent) were found to

be selling goat meat. Twelve firms had previously sold goat but had quit;

... supplies was a. : .-:.. reason for . the ; .-

Nearly 80 percent of the wholesalers (128 firms) had never sold goat meat.

Total annual goat meat sales by the 24 firms h.. tU, .. the product were

estimated at 840,000 pounds, which amounted to approximately one-fourth of a

pound per person per year in the three-county area. About half went to

retail grocers, one-third to restaurants, and about 10 percent to varied

foodservice operations such as :' : ., labor camps, and jobbers serving

foodservice outlets. Approximately six percent was sold directly to


Executives of 17 retail food chains representing 622 stores were also

interviewed by :--: .. .. Six of the smaller chains were found to be selling

goat meat, but only in stores located in areas serving large ethnic

populations. Only 28 stores of the 622 controlled by the 17 retail chains

offered goat. Average sales v-* store amounted to 40 pounds per week.

The wholesaler and retailer surveys both revealed limited ..

and low volumes sold through retail food stores. F : : wholesalers

and retailers had limited knowledge of goat meat, and many exhibited negative


attitudes toward it as well. Additionally, the surveys indicated that goat

meat supplies through commercial channels are erratic, and quality is also

variable. Prices at wholesale and retail levels were also found to be low,

relative to live goat prices received by most Florida :. '...I

We concluded that large-scale market development would require product

standardization (grading) and more dependable supplies. We also concluded

that it would be in the best interests of Florida producers to explore market

development opportunities outside of the traditional commercial wholesale-

retail marketing channel.

At this juncture, we wanted to evaluate restaurants as a viable market

outlet for Florida goats. However, we felt it was essential to learn more

about consumer attitudes toward goat meat and to obtain realistic product

evaluations from consumers prior to conducting a -...;- of restaurant


.- '. : little was known about consumers' attitudes toward goat meat

or their evaluations of goat meat outside of taste ., laboratory

Several palatability studies had been conducted, comparing goat with heef,

: lamb, and even horse, but standardized laboratory cooking methods used

: all species :....: to put goat meat at a disadvantage. A major

objective was to obtain more appropriate product evaluations by ..-,

consumers evaluate goat meat cooked by <.1- 1 r.. a cooking method routinely

used by consumers and many foodservice establishments.

Barbecued beef was used as a control or benchmark against which the goat

meat was compared. Both the goat and the beef were prepared under commercial

conditions by a restaurant which .. v in barbecued meats. The beef

samples, taken directly from the stock of the restaurant, were from whole

bottom rounds which had been cooked at 225'F. for ten hours. The goat meat,

obtained from ten Spanish goat carcasses :-.::: from 17 to 39 pounds, was

cooked for two to eight hours, depending on the thickness of cut. The entire

goat carcass was used. After cooking, all samples were deboned, trimmed of

exterior gristle and -.- and cut into half-inch cubes, All samples were

then stored at 38*F. until needed, from two to four days. According to the

manager of the restaurant that prepared the -.- this refrigerated

storage period is well within the norm for storage of cooked beef barbecue by

many restaurants.

-evaluations were conducted in Tampa and Jacksonville. -,-:

of 300 consumers were obtained in "' s shopping malls in each city. The 600

participants were screened to include those over 18 years of age, those that

had eaten some type of barbecue within the past year, and those that had

patronized a full-service restaurant at least once in the previous month.

After respondents were i :. in the malls, they were taken to the market

research firms' -i:: : where they were given :... samples and

interviewed by trained, .-. interviewers in : .. booths. Each

person was asked to evaluate one-ounce samples of both the goat and the beef.

Samples were identified only V'. the letters "L" and "T," and the order in

which they were presented to participants was rotated to minimize order bias.

Respondents were not told what types of meat were being evaluated. Only


three percent of the respondents insisted upon knowing the types of meat; the

.... ..... 97 percent did not know. The ..-... were heated to serving

*..:.:.....-. in a microwave oven in individual plastic cups ...: to

evaluation. No sauce was used during preparation or serving, but salt was

available for -: ..: ._:' use if desired.

Consumers were asked to rate the goat and beef samples with respect to

tenderness, smoked flavor, meat flavor, and juiciness on a five-point

semantic differential scale where 3 ::- .....- .:.' the ideal and 1 and 5

represented defined extremes (Table 1). Although both goat and beef were

both :.. ? to be slightly too tough and slightly too dry, the mean ratings

for tenderness and juiciness for beef were nearer the ideal, and the

differences between goat and beef were : .; . :.

: to smoked flavor, mean ratings indicated that both products needed

additional flavor. However, the ratings for goat and beef were statistically

different, and the rating for goat was nearer the ideal. 7r -. for meat

flavor were very similar for both products; mean ratings were very near the

ideal, but both were judged to be slightly bland (Table 1).

Table 1.--Consumer ratings of selected i
and beef.

-,tic -. - of goat meat

Mean .; ,,. ."

.... Goat Beef

Tenderness 2.29 2.45b
Smoked flavor 3.34b 3,71
Meat flavor 3.30 3.26
Juiciness 2.44 2.59b

aRatings were made on the basis of a five-point semantic differential
scale where 3 -". -,. !-. "just ..:..: and the extremes were defined as

Smoked flavor:
Meat flavor:

much too tough; 5 needs to be :....-1
much too smoky; 5 needs much more smoke flavor
much too strong; 5 needs much more meat flavor
much too dry; 5 much too juicy

bPaired t-tests were used to compare mean ratings for goat and beef.
-.,., : are placed on mean values nearest the ideal rating of 3 where
the differences between ratings for goat and beef were statistically
.-. at the 0.05 level.

Smell and ...;., ..:t. ratings for "overall taste" and "overall appeal"

were made using a scale where 10 represented excellent and 0 extremely poor.

The goat meat received better average ratings on all three

characteristics, but the difference between goat and beef ratings was

statistically significant only for smell (Table 2). Examination of the

"overall appeal" ratings revealed that nearly 42 percent of the respondents

; ,- the goat, 38 percent .7;- :-: the beef, and 20 .. -.: were

indifferent, giving identical ratings to the two products.


Table 2.--Consumer ratings of selected characteristics of goat meat and beef.

Mean ratings"

Characteristic Goat Beef

Smell 6.12 5.72
Overall taste 5.94 5.80
Overall appeal 5.69 5.67

aRatings are based !:L,- a numeric scale where 10 excellent and 0 -
extremely poor.
bPaired t-tests were used to compare mean ratings for goat and beef.
.::: "-. are placed on mean values nearest the ideal rating of 3 where
the differences between ratings for goat and beef were statistically
significant at the 0.05 level.

Respondents were also asked to rate the suitability of the two '

for an occasional family meal served at home, as a special meal for friends,

and as a restaurant meal. Ratings for goat and beef were very similar for

all three types of meals. It appears that both products were viewed as .,:.:

more .-.-._7 for family at-home meals than for special entertaining or as

restaurant meals (Table 3).

Table 3.--Suitabilit' of goat and beef barbecue for selected types of meals.

Mean ratingsa

Meal type Goat Beef

Occasional family meal, at home 5.18 5.28
Special meal for friends 4.63 4.60
Restaurant meal 4.60 4.55

"Ratings are based upon a numeric scale where 10 excellent and 0 -
extremely poor. Paired t-tests were used to compare goat and beef ratings
for each type of meal. None was found to be statistically -... : at the
0.05 level.

Prior to being told what two types of meat they had evaluated,

respondents were asked whether or not they would buy ; .. similar to the

samples in a restaurant or in a retail food store. ":~. .-y over half said

they would buy the goat barbecue in a restaurant, 46 z:..r ,. said I would

not, and three percent were undecided. Fewer respondents were willing to 1

the beef. T -seven percent indicated a willingness to buy the beef,

virtually the same percentage was unwilling, with nearly six percent

undecided (Table 4). Nearly two-thirds of all :t.- ..:..'- were willing to

buy both the goat and the beef for an at-home meal, while approximately one-

third were unwilling (Table 4).

Table 4.--Consumers' willingness to buy goat and beef barbecue in food stores
and restaurants.

S-.: of outlet/
Response Goat Beef

!< ...;.35:. ) (Percent) ) : )

Yes, would buy 307 51.2 282 47.1
No, would not buy 274 45.7 283 47.2
Unsure __1&u .0 3A
Totals 599 100.0, 599 100.0
Food store:
Yes, would buy 382 63.8 374 62.4
No, would not buy 201 33.6 198 33.0
Unsure _16 2, -_2.5
599 100.0" 599 100.0

.:: : ":-,: does not sum to 100.0 due to ....

After the blind (1... -:..: ; product evaluations had been completed,

respondents were told that one product was goat and one was beef. Only 51

correctly identified goat, 41 *-- incorrectly identified the beef

as goat, and eight percent were unsure. Only 25 percent of all respondents

had previously eaten goat meat. The product evaluations tended to confirm

our initial hypothesis: that goat meat, properly prepared, would :.

very favorably with beef.

While the product comparisons between goat and beef were positive,

it is 1..:. to realize that pre, -i' consumer attitudes toward red

meat, and goat meat in part-'- ; ', might adversely affect consumption of

goat. Consumer attitudes were explored in focus group interviews conducted

in Tampa and .... Ile, and also during each of the 600 consumer

interviews. Several negative factors were identified that could impair

market . -: -. efforts for goat meat, but there were some positive

:. as well.

There is a pervasive perception among consumers that red meat is "bad"

for health; this perception has manifested itself in dramatically reduced

beef consumption in recent years. This - L. *. F downward trend could

.:'---.- impact goat as -- unless there is documentation that the

nutritional .- -.'". .., of goat meat is superior to other red meats such as

beef and Another commonplace :_ i '. is that goats are cute little

animals that :-. *: on idyllic farms, in nursery '-, or in petting zoos,

rather than on the dinner cable. Several focus group participants expressed

their disgust with the idea of eating goat, ::.-..... "It's 1. eating a pet

... like a dog or cat." Another relatively common negative perception is

that goats are smelly scavengers. Some people have gotten the impression

that goats will eat anything from tin cans to tires, and trash consumption

results in inedible or poor quality meat. Still another negative image

among older men that served in World War II. These ex-servicemen

say they were fed strong-smelling, foul-tasting "goat" (, .. ..' 'y mutton)

during the war when shortages of beef, pork and poultry were common.


For.-.. .'.y, there are many positive images of goat meat as well. On

the positive side, many consumers have a perception that goat's milk is

especially nutritious and, .- .,:.... goat meat should be healthful as well.

Another positive i.:.. .., was that, when asked to describe the kind of

restaurant most likely to serve goat meat, many focus group participants felt

that :: ... .," .. -.:." restaurants would likely serve goat. Of the 600

taste panel consumers, the majority described restaurants selling goat meat

in positive terms, such as "clean," m'..' maintained," "moderately priced,"

y. y decorated," and "in a nice part of town." ",.. Neve restaurant

associations were expressed by a minority of respondents.

Names commonly used in the ':. :- for goat meat were also examined,

Using a : : :. -. word association technique, the 600 consumers in Tampa

and Jacksonville were asked for first impressions of "chevon," "cabrito" and

,.: Additionally, each respondent was asked to indicate the social class

of people that would consume each of the items. In : : and

,.'.:. received more favorable associations than did "goat." Additional-

ly, -. and "cabrito" were generally associated with higher social

classes than -; .. (Table 5). The locationss of these associations are

clear for the goat industry: "chevon" and "cabrito" project a better image

than "goat," and these or other fanciful names should be encouraged on menus

and in promotional activities whenever possible. A lesson can be learned

from other livestock groups; meat from "baby ::'. is known as veal, from

pigs, : :- not "pig meat." You, as cashmere producers, enjoy the benefits

of a very positive, upscale image. Now comes the work of transferring a more

positive association to the meat as well. Remember: GOAT is a four-'.- -


Table 5.--Consumers' associations of .. goat product names with social

Class Chevon Cabrito Goat

(---------------- Percent----------------)*
High 12.7 7.0 2.0
middle 33.6 17.0 10.4
Middle 40.7 55.3 36.3
Lower middle 7.8 15.6 27.8
Low .2..A 5.1 23,5
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0

aPercentages are based on 599 observations.

The consumer research provided considerable insight for a viable market

dev. '-,-,7 .- program for goat meat. One of the most significant (and

promotable) findings was that goat meat received f; favorable evaluations

relative to beef. Further, consumers' images associated with goat meat sales

in restaurants were :.-. .::.....-.y positive. Although the 600-member consumer

panel 1..... the goat and beef samples somewhat more appropriate for an at-

home meal than a restaurant meal, the fact remains that the barbecued beef

product is currently .- successful. Additionally, freshly cooked 7- :

rather than warmed over samples, would undoubtedly receive even better

consumer evaluations. Further, restaurants could possibly promote such a

product in a way to make it a "true delicacy," not to be confused with more

mundane forms of barbecue, which may suffer an image problem of its own,

i.e., that of being relatively low-priced and .- vittles for low-income

hlarks and rednecks that love longnecks and pickup trucks.

Another reason for choosing market development through restaurants was

the relatively low incidence of prior consumption of goat meat by the 600

-. (25 percent). Consumers that had never tried goat meat would be


unlikely to purchase the raw product in a food store because of limited

knowledge of proper ..t.i* methods. However, in a restaurant,

consumers :~? be tempted to try goat meat when ;--, -;- properly and

presented as an exotic appetizer or entree. Thus, a mail survey of

foodservice establishments in Florida was conducted to determine the current

level of market penetration of goat meat in the foodservice sector, the level

of knowledge about goat meat among foodservice operators, and the likelihood

of additional goat meat sales in Florida ... *-: ice outlets.

The sample was drawn from a list of approximately 33,000 licensed

foodservice establishments provided by the Florida Department of Business

Regulation. Examination of the list resulted in identification of 630

restaurants that were thought to serve barbecue, based upon their names. An

additional 630 restaurants were randomly selected for the survey.

Twelve percent (157 firms) ; _' to the mail questionnaire. Only

five restaurants (- .. -.. -;ly three percent) were found to be selling goat

meat. Five additional restaurants had sold goat meat within the previous

two-year ; -. '. but had discontinued, T.. .: unreliable supplies and

variable quality were major reasons given for quitting. There were no

statistically significant differences between the barbecue restaurants and

the randomly selected restaurants with respect to ,: ; :' .- or

discontinuing goat meat.

The survey indicated that most restaurant managers know little about

goat meat. Most were uncertain about :...-; n .-. and cooking methods, the

availability of supplies, quality, or potential impacts on their sales and

profitability. Nearly one-third of the managers felt that goat meat would

complement their menus, and one-third were uncertain. :.,.;: half felt that


consumer reaction to goat meat items on their menus would be negative, and

one-third were uncertain of consumers' potential reactions.

Despite the managers' lack of knowledge and uncertainty, there was

considerable interest in A..H.... goat to their menus. About ten percent said

they were .*...' interested and nearly 20 percent said they were

".. .-. interested in serving goat meat. Approximately 25 -...

expressed :.' interest, and 46 percent said they had no interest in

including it on their menus. When asked how likely they were to start

serving goat meat within the next year, eight managers (about five percent)

said they definitely would, and an equal number said they :.-:. y would,"

associated with a 0.75 ,- ;,, !'Ty. About 20 percent said there was about a

50-50 chance they would serve goat within a year. About one-fourth of those

.. :... said they :;.- y would :.. (0.25 probability of serving goat),

and, ... .:.-.l. y 44 percent said they "definitely would .' serve it.

were also asked which of several names would have the greatest

appeal to their customers. ,. )," was preferred by slightly over 40

percent, "ehevon" by approximately 40 percent, and "goat meat" by 18 percent.

The restaurant survey provided a ..:.:.. indication of interest in goat

meat among foodservice managers, but it also underscored several i; ,lems

that must be overcome before widespread market dev-w. .-- activities are

initiated. The major problems are limited .r .-' -., lack of quality

standards, and lack of knowledge among restaurant ... .. I V : these

-. it .,:--. : that there is a significant proportion of restaurants

willing to offer goat meat on their menus. However, their interest would be

short-lived if supply and quality problems persist.


: ^W.^-` AND "M -

Our research has shown that few F*.''. :-: : goats are entering

commercial marketing channels. Despite myths to the contrary, ..-- limited

quantities of goat meat are being marketed through meat 1. 7..:. .: food

retailers, and prospects for enlisting enthusiastic support from these

traditional meat marketers appear dim. However, market development

.. -- ties for goat meat are very bright. The consumer evaluations were

very positive, and significant numbers of restaurant managers are interested

in ..''': goat on their menus. Once consumers are introduced to properly

prepared goat meat in restaurants, they may wish to buy goat through retail

food stores. Another positive factor is the rapid growth of ethnic

populations that are already familiar with goat meat.

The meat goat industry should proceed with caution, however. Before

..... a lot of enthusiasm in the foodservice sector, meat goat producers

should have the capacity to provide -.. .....t:. supplies of high quality meat at

reasonably stable prices. ;: : .y, producers should also begin to dispel

negative images related to goats through various public relations and

educational activities directed at restaurant managers and the general ''

as well. Development of a coordinated marketing program which minimizes the

use of the four-letter word is essential for continued success of the meat

goat industry.

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