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Goat Meat Marketing: Strategies for Reaching Consumers
Dr. Robert L. Degner
Professor and Director
Florida Agricultural Market Research Center
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611
Since the mid 1980's, there has been an t-.! .. of interest
in goat production all across the U.S. Most meetings and
conferences still stress production ...~. . .~:... ., with topics such as
breed .: -. ':-.., nutrition, disease and predator control drawing
big crowds. While pesky production problems continue to cut into
profits, steady progress is being made in improving husbandry
practices because there are .:animal scientists at work on these
problems. To date, however, very little attention has been paid to
.: :.. This conference, however, is an exception; it is a
pleasure to be asked to participate in a meeting where marketing is
receive.: > so much attention.
It is difficult to get excited about markete .-..; as long as
you can -.; ..; -as many goats or anyt',;, else you want at a :;.:
that results in a satisfactory return on your effort and
investment. However, producer attendance at conferences such as
this is an indication that the supply of goats and goat products
may increase dramatically over the next few years. If no thought
is given to increasing the market for goat products, the additional
supplies could have a devastating effect on producer prices.
My objective is to share with you i,. to increase :i, ..i r.-
S:. -.:. -' : particularly meat. The focus is on meat because it
represents a .:-. opportunity for increasing producer
^3 .-tability whether you are specializing in meat production or
culls from dairy or cashmere herds. While meat :.; .:..:.
a '.:.' : -' i: :-.. ..ty, it also poses i cO -' market '
i ..:.- ..... .-.i-, we will examine some of these challenges and
explore ways to overcome them.
THE ':: MARKETING ENVIRONMENT
In many countries of the world, particularly those with arid
climates, . ~ meat is a major source of animal protein in human
diets. In these countries, goats are more adaptable to the arid
climate than cattle or hogs, and thus their production is more
economically efficient. However, in the U.S., our temperate
climate has resulted in abundant, economical production of cattle,
hogs, and poultry, and these items are mai:: !:..: in American diets.
For example, in .:--, the average American consumer devoured
over 103 pounds of beef and 65.5 pounds of pork. Additionally, the
average consumer ate nearly 63 pounds of chicken, 15 -..... ..- of
turkey and 15 pounds of fish. The average person ate only 1.5
pounds of lamb and mutton .... 1989). In Florida, we estimated
that consumption of goat meat in areas with high proportions of
goat-eating ethnic -...- ..: amounted to approximately 1/4 ;....;.
per person per year in 1987 -. :,, and Locascio, 1988). These per
-'-. : -I consumption -.i-.. show Americans .-. : .. ,: --. for
beef, pork, : a'.. :: and fish far -. those for i-.i, mutton, and
Goat producers can view beef, 7 -.* chicken, turkey and
-. .. -..-'- as major .. ; If you are ..'; -. of
,. -;..... in head-to-head competition with these traditional meats,
need to be aware that .,- -..-; dietary habits are hard to
break. To make matters worse, American consumers are :v-;-.i
=-.. ..away from red meats to ..--:' and seafood. For -. -, -.,:..
beef consumption in the U.S. 9... by 15 percent between 1975-77
and 1985-87, while ;.: ir.' increased by 45 percent ..: the same
period (USDA, 1989).
Still another competitive .; ...1.- arises from the fact that
goat moat is expensive at the wholesale and retail levels relative
to beef, i .--: and '. ;.. .: -, chicken. In 1987, beef chuck roast
S for $1.68 per pound, round roast for $2.53, ham for $1.54, and
whole chicken for $0.78 per pound, :r-. ..P with an estimated .45
per pound for Flor -;. ;- : whole-carcass goat .'.. ).
The h'... relative retail t-; for ; goat carcasses reflects
high r.. and costs. In most intensive goat
production I -:-.=;, the cost of ;.~'' .. iis relative-. high
because of -,.-? t ;.-.: -.: -y .-;.. J and veteri:; : -..-.-. .-: Further,
slaughter and fabrication costs ,.-;, you can find a slaughterhouse
that will process goats) on a per '. ,,.. basis are -:- .; :-
higher for goats than for beef or ,.-. because of -. '---.,:.- of
scale. This ~ 1... means that :-:.-. -:. costs per unit of output
decrease with v,:'. -.. and most beef and pork processing plants are
very ": c .-;. at large capacities at very low cost per
of ..-...t Goats, on the other hand, are processed by small,
.vely inefficient slaughter plants. In '--I: small custom
-.::- .i houses t- .- y charge $10 to $15 per head for
For a 75 :-....-. animal, this adds -. _.,-. ,.-'y 30 to 40
cents per . to a whole carcass.
How, ..-. are goat producers .-.'.-: to compete? At this
.- the ..-: ., e- looks pretty bleak. Some of the strategies that
we are going to discuss can bb ,:~ -.- : by : ....: .- producers,
S others may ::- group action, -..: through state ..
regional, or national producer associations.
Presently, there are hundreds, if not thousands of goat
producers nationwide that are able to sell the ~., ': they ::,. -...
at acceptable prices. Where do they sell them? Al'-,_';, there are
a few .-' commercial goat :.: -,- such as
Junction City, ::> ;1: ., and Ada, goat producers in most areas
are too far : , from them to use them :-: :.y;
transportation costs are .,-.~-.., .... In Florida, goat production
is -_.: .- but relatively limited, so there are no large,
-,m markets. We found that most Florida-produced goats are
sold directly to final consumers or dealers at the farm or through
livestock auctions. In the short run, while :l:.: for goat meat
is relatively limited and industry a ,;,.. .i are also ,-., j these
traditional marketing methods will work reasonably well. As
: ; increase, direct sales activities and auction :: : will
have to be improved.
Direct sales sound simple. Cut out the middleman, sell
directly to the final consumer and count your profits.
Unfortunately, there is a cost involved: inconvenience. If
have to disrupt your .t- l:; or leisure activities to round up your
goats to sell one or two at a time, it may be more trouble than
it's worth. You have to like people to up with the bother. On
the positive side, you : be able to **t $5 to $10 more per head
than selling :-. an auction, Another difficulty may be your
schedule. Off-farm jobs can make it difficult to engage in direct
sales. If your herd is in a remote location, direct sales may not
work at all; if you are near a large urbanized area with high
concentrations of ethnic populations, your chances of success are
greater. The major impediment to direct sales is the limited
number of people that will seek you out to buy a live animal for
slaughter. When you consider the entire population of your
::. I:.;. area, there is an extremely small : :::: i that will
go to the trouble of l 1 .ai-r, buying, and slaughter':-. a live
goat. Even those that are willing to go to this trouble will only
do it on special occasions. Tn Flor '-. and probably most other
states as ',*:,., most direct sales are made to individuals from
ethnic groups such as cubans, Mexicans, Jamaicans and American
blacks, Rural whites are also good customers in some areas.
Greatest demand comes at major holidays.
-the inherent shortcomings of direct -;, they can be
S:. Assuming that you have a reasonably accessible
location near a sizeable urban area and you don't mind some
inconvenience, how can you increase your direct sales? :.: your
- and : program to have saleable animals available for
the major holidays such as Easter, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving
and Christmas. Run classified ads in daily .--: :;-: and weekly
":. i -:"' a week or two before all holidays. If your area has a
'. .: : - :.. : try Spanish ads. If your
production is large enough and you have large ethnic populations in
your :i:: . you might be able to make :- ive use of : i :
S on Spanish radio stations or spots in conjunction with
-- .; or black ,- ::--.- - on local radio stations.
Roadside signs can also be effective, but you will have to
comply with local .. a.. --.-.: nd make sure you keep :... well
maintained. on vehicles :: trailers can convey
..' ::. .:- relations activities can '; keep you in the
-:.. eye. c,,1 churches, civic clubs and youth :.-: .:...-.
have annual fund raisers, and barbecues are very .:. .:---. Contact
club leaders with "-- :.- e. volume 1 ...-. and a few large fund
raisers could help solve your '. problems.
As you develop ...:. I:r.:t sales clientele, .*.i in mind that
a satisfied customer may become a repeat customer.
;. ::-'. to get a :. address for every customer. Al''..'.
ethnic customers may move more frequently than other residents, a
S-- -. r--- of the availability of goats sent to past
customers may prove to be a very effective way to stimulate sales.
S- way to i.. e- 1.: i ;. is to provide i
service. For example, you might arrange to transport the animals
the customer has selected to a custom processor. A tie-in with a
custom slaughterhouse can expand your sales in some areas by making
the whole :-.. .s more convenient.
Li -. .auctions are a major sales outlet for many
-. However, because of variable goat ..;~. .and limited
numbers of buyers, .;-.-- are fr, ... --o low. In ? L..:, we have
had some degree of success by arranging ;i.. ..1 goat sales. Goat
' -;-:i.: ";' organizations, county extension agents, and livestock
auctions have cooperated in .. such .. --- to goat
and r .*.;. buyers to stimulate a competitive market-
environment. --..-?,- ::, y :.: -::. goat sales can :. : as a
S..to get buyers and sellers together. Such sales don't just
S. however. They require coordinated effort ..-- support by
producers, auction managers, and buyers. However, the initiative
to organize :'.. sales rests with .'-:-.. One final point about
auctions: in Florida and most other states, most goats sold
-... auctions ultimately go to the same consumer market served
by direct sales, that is ethnic consumers,
The short-term : -.- strategies discussed above certainly
are not new or innovative; for the most t they -* .
"business as usual." Tar;E' ::,; ethnic groups and rural residents
that are ",- .. goat meat consumers and making auction markets
more efficient is a conservative strategy that may : producers
with small herds. But it is doubtful that the can rely
solely on ethnic consumers to absorb meat .- : generated by
large-scale ..: .- i..r:. Although ethnic consumers are familiar
with goat meat and are currently our best customers, they
undoubtedly will quickly reach the point where their demand for
goat meat is satisfied. Also, most ethnic consumers are at or near
the very bottom of the economic ladder, further restr'.:.- : demand
for relatively .;:.:,!;: .. -.7 products, including goat meat. How,
then can we reach "mainstream" consumers?
First of all, we ::.- 1 to gain i ..-: access to
channels that will make goat meat available to more consumers.
S, here are few .--.: where goat is sold at wholesale or
retail. ... commercial marketing channels will be
difficult to cultivate, however, and I will discuss this problem in
greater detail in a later .-:.
In Florida, one study indicated that only -_.,-:. *:, of
consumers had ever tried goat meat (Degner, 1990). This lack of
familiarity makes it a very difficult product to sell through
:;: -:: .: r: because most consumers would not know how to prepare
it properly. Since improperly cooked goat meat is likely to be
tough, proper preparation is essential. t-. .Z -.
such as recipes, nutritional information and incentives to try new
S '.:- which are aimed at supermarket shoppers are far too
expensive to implement, given the small, fragmented nature of the
goat industry and the lack of promotional funds.
One promising strategy that can be implemented by one goat
producer or an entire producer association at relatively low cost
is to target the foodservice sector. A Florida : .. found that
nearly one-third of all : i;.. full-service restaurants
surveyed expressed moderate to strong interest in offering goat
meat on their menus. This w''-t .:. interest offers .::i.-: :the
opportunity to cultivate market outlets where goat meat can be
properly ..... ,:1 by restaurant chefs and offered to consumers as
a novelty menu item. In a :4.:t study this ; *i year, one
Gainesville restaurant sold .-:.- ..ly 200 to 250 pounds
(carcass weight) of goat : week.
Once consumers are introduced to e y prepared goat meat
in restaurants, -; ,may wish to buy it through retail food stores.
However, considerable time will probably elapse before there is
sufficient consumer demand to entice most retail stores to carry
-, meat. Thus, foodservice firms are likely to be the most
:-. sales outlets in the foreseeable future.
However, before generating a lot of interest among restaurant
managers, the goat industry should have the capacity to provide
..i.,i supplies of high quality meat at reasonably stable :.
r: ::-,.' wild price swings wreak havoc with menu prices, and poor
;. .ty meat or :7:*,; :.: product shortages are sure to ruin chances
Another important consideration is the product C- required
by restaurants. :r1 will want whole carcasses. In our pilot
study, leg and loin roasts were well received, and goat sausage
has also been popular. Obviously, fabrication of ready to cook
items is costly, but restaurants are accustomed to paying for
convenient products and they will avoid those that require a lot of
In summary, marketing strategies to reach more consumers and
expand to the demand for goat meat can take two basic directions.
The first is to examine traditional .- :' marketing activities
that are directed at current consumers and try to improve upon
them. The current consumer base, which is largely comprised of
ethnic :-.. can be targeted and served better. This is an
-..': ve ::.. in the short run. However, if goat production
should increase rapidly, producer prices are likely to decline
unless the consumer base is expanded beyond the traditional ethnic
populations. Thus, a long-run -::! 1:. strategy to introduce
properly cooked, quality : meat products to mainstream consumers
unfamiliar with .. is needed. One way to do this is to work with
I;,;;i i; restaurants to create "- new menu items utilizing
locally produced goats. In the long run, this approach may also
enhance consumer demand to the point where goat can also be sold
effectively through retail food stores.
Degner, Robert L. and J. David Locascio. "Distribution of Goat Meat
in Selected Metropolitan Florida Markets". Industry Report
88-3. The Florida Agricultural Market .:;.-- -.:.. Center, Food
and Resource Economics Department, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Science, University of Florida, May, 1988.
Degner, Robert L. :. ir.v the Meat: Goat is a Four-Letter Word".
Cash in on Cashmere, -. -* -i:::, Third Annual conference of
the Cashmere Producers of America. Tulsa, Oklahoma, November
:;::: Judith Jones. Food consumption, Prices, and Expenditures
1966-87. Statistical Bulletin No. 773. United States
Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service,
Washington, D.C., January, 1989.