Marketing goat meat : a persistent challenge


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Marketing goat meat : a persistent challenge
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Degner, Robert L.
Florida Agricultural Market Research Center
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Markfting Goat Meat: A er-triit C'ha lerce

Dr. Robert L. Degner
":.- ..-. and Director
: .. A:. : Market Research Center
:. :. ; : of
C -I, ; Florida "11

This year, 1996, marks an important milestone in the
.. ,. ,! ::-.--. : :::- ::.y..- ,. .:: ::..* i.'y in Florida. Thii isthe
anth nniverary of the Flordia Meat Goat Association, a
group of goat producers .: to :: .- the goat

of mea" The association has been extremely active in spon-

ducers and processors .- : : enyon, .-.
have been ,,, .. of goatresearch atFlorida A&M
c,; .-.,; and the -- of Florda over the past de-
Te purpose of this paper is twofold The first is to pause
for a moment to '- -- :. .- ;:,: r. ':: .' been made as
a esultoftirelessindividual ..-.: :: ..- -.. . .-
Meat Goat Association, and the efforts of researchers and
educators at FAMU and U of F over the past 10 years. The
secondbasicpurposeis to;; : ,-- ...: : t '.;.,
goatproducersby. .. ; r- -:- '... market develop-
m:nt activities over the next decade.

A: Ti a ,: of Progress
Much has been learned about goat husbandry over the
past 10 .r; Research and demonstration projects have
dalt wth goat breeds, nutrition, -" -. : management,
facilities and housing, and health practices. Numerous con-
ferences and meetings have been well-attended and many
recommended practices adopted by producers. Economic
analyses of goat production have given producers insights on
the profitability of various .... .::..: (Covington
and Simpson, 1995).
In addition, the technical ::.. : : ....: ; : -* .... '
in Florida were examined. Factual information on the com-
position I, .....: of goat meat was developed. This infor-
mation can be used to substantiate health and nutrition
claims in promotional programs (Johnson, 1995).
Marketing has also received considerable attention over
the past 10 yea. Increased production, .:.- from
large, ,.. goat fars fostered interest in the com-
.: : : .. .. "livestock auctionmanagers,meat
wholesalers, food retailers, and restaurant managers re-
vealed little goat meat was being sold through commercial
.. virtually all goat meat entering com-
mercial channels was originating in states other -. ,.. :, :.,
Sand Locascio, 1988). A -. -. of food retailers
showed that large chainstores were not selling goat meat and

had little interest in it. Smaller chains catering to ethnic
populations in south Florida were found to be the most
important retail outlets, but offered little hope for in-
creasing sales (Locascio and i'- :,- 1988).
of goat meat through foodservic outlets
was found to be very 1;r;: ,. but nearly one-third of the
independent restaurant managers surveyed rF -,-.. ,.-, inter-
est in offering it on their menus (Degner, 1990). Thus,
restaurants were identified as a : :.: -". viable means of
market development. A .' ... ".- ; :. -.' with one r s-
taurat in Gainesville recorded weekly sales ranging from
200 to 250 pounds (carcass However, after the

beuse of supply rblems.
Several consumer research studies were also conducted
as part of a market development effort in the late 1980's.
Focus group interviews conducted in several large Florida
cities found mixed attitudes toward goat meat among eon-
mers. The interviews revealed a number of negative im-
ages that could be combated by : .."' crafted educational
and promotional programs. However, funds have not been
available for such programs, so it is doubtful whether much
progress has been mad in improving the image of goat meat
among members of the general population.
On the positive side, an extensive consumer taste test
showed that commercially prepared goat barbecue compared
very favorably to similarly prepared beef. When given two
unidentified barbecued meat samples, one goat, the other
beef, 42 percent of t -.. r. - ,".: r- ,- :. .r the goat, 38
percent preferred the beef, and 20 percent gave the products
equal ratings "' 1990). However, few consumers eat
unidentified "mystery" meat. In this marketing study involv-
ing rl. adults, only 25 percent had eaten goat meat; this
unfamiliarity coupled with negative images held by many
people would be likely to substantially reduce acceptance of
goat meat identified as such.

Future Direction
A ,.: :: :' -: -:::. : remarked "the only ones mak-
ing money off goats are researchers" While this statement
may be true, it should not be taken as an : -:. '-:: :. of past
goat research and education programs, In fact, the success of
these programs may have increased goat numbers and
greater .-* i-r"",:' resulting in downward pres-
sure on prices. Does this mean that production research
should be halted? C :' :. producers can still benefit
from research which will reduce .... ::: costs and im-

prove the .- ." of the end produce. For example, much
remains to be done in the areas of selective .: to
and '. : .. -
and health practices. T-: -
done on the knowledge base that we already have.

Defining The Marketing Problem
From the perspective of goat producers, particularly in
times of low and dening .g '* ':. -appear that there is
an oversupply of goats. Granted, the law of supply and
demand is irrefutable. With a relatively small cusmer base
: . ... .. : .: to drive prices down
(Figure 1). Figure 1 also illustrates an impo t means of
alleviating low market prices: an expanded customer base.
One way of gaining a broader cuter base s o mak the
(goat meat) more widely available to consumers, in
terms of geographic locations, types of outlets, and product
Examinaion of typical marketing channels for common
meat animals reveals 1 c;: i complex series of market-
ing channels figuree 2). Complex marketing channels such
as these facilitate the flow of live animals and processed
products through the system to ultimate consumers. Under
the relatively ideal marketing chaels illustrated in Figure
2, prod crs have* '..: buyers for their live animals,
generating i :C ... .. : -:.a :-'r environment. Pro
ducers can not only sell : t consumers, as is the
common -: : .; .-: in Florid but theycan
also sell to dealers or traders, take their animals to local
auctions, to large specialized auctions, market through co-
ops, or sell :!:-- :. to processors. .. :.:.. of processing
plants linked to meat wholesalers and purveyors, restaurants
and food retailers completes the link to consumers.
Examination of marketing channels for goats in Florida
reveals a much less than ideal ,. :, ', ,- 3). Solid lines
in Figure 3 depict the most important well-est~blished ks
between the various ....... :: marketing channels
and dashed. : show weaker (and perhaps .;-:
relationships. Florida producers' most important sles out-
: -' :to individual consumers
and to taders, who in turn : to individual consumers
locally or in other parts of the state. Florida producers have
practically no local auctions and large .. : auctions
are too far away to be economically viable. Florida producers
do have a relatively new link in their marketing channel,
; .- : :. .. :: .sales. "Critter sales", a term coined
by the Division of Animal ;- ... of the Florida Depart-
ment of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to
describe live animal sales held in conjunction with flea
markets and other types of community sales. The goat pro-
cessor, a critical element, is : ... .'- non-existent in
Florida. '." .-. ': all of the goat meat entering commercial
meat marketing channels is shipped into Florida is in carcass
form from other states, Thus, Florida goat
. -. .. . : '" :: th e
state's distribution network for goat meat.
W hy - - .: .. . : ; . -. . .- : ..
in Florida? The bottom line is lack of volume. There are too

few goats available on a consistent basis to make it worth-
while for most commercial slaughtering plants to slaughter
goats. Small volume results in inefficiencies. Processing
plants in Virginia reportedly require 250 to 400 animals per
week in order to remain competitive in serving ethnic mar-
kets in the Washington, D.C. and New York areas. So, to sum
up Florida's goat marketing problem, it is not a matter of too
many goats, but too few! If the local market for live animals
is saturated (or glutted), possible solutions include coordi-
nating withother ,ui --P: ,- r ;- i. .. -' r -'-I .-,:;' :-
of animals of uniform quality to a .. ;.-.., processor to
make i -: -.::. more efficient, thus access to
commercial meat marketing channls and (b) taking live
animals to other areas of the state where larger numbers of
potential buyers are located. Coordinating with other goat
producers can help more consistent ...,. at
critter sales and ;:." reduce transportation costs by
putting together P. i loads. Joining forces with
I" -- *.i-
ing of sales more affordable as -
Figure 3 depicts a feasible marketing channel scenario
for Florida. With producers' ....... a :
ing coop could make the .i ..i: of live ai through
distant "critter sales" more efficient A : ,.-- .., coopera-
tive could also provi more efficient processing which

..,:.ii .. .. :... ;.....; . .. -' ': .... .: ".. ::"

to develop largely untapped nic markets. Florida has a
large, ethnically diverse population. Many of the ethnic
groups ,: .: in -.:. have a high degree of familiarity
with goats and goat meat, which could enhance market
- -:,: ..-- : .:-: orexample, the 1990 Census of Popu-
lation showed that over 80,000 residents were of Arab ances-
try, and about 106,000 were of Greek descent. Over 456,000
were of West Indian scent, and nearly 6 million were of
:. ,. Other significant numbers ofresidents were
descended from Subsaharan Africans, Asian ..;.-.. and
Southeast Asians : -' 1). Many of these residents repre-
sent a marketing opportunity for Florida goat producers;
:- .. ost are concentrated in a few major metro-
..-. areas, which would facilitate focused market devel-
. activities (U.S. 7.. of Commerce, 1990).

Summary and Conclusions
The Florida goat industry has made considerable
progress with respect to : ...." .:. .. .' -r ::.
and much has been learned about marketing as well. How-
ever. Florida still lacks an adequate market infrastructure.
Most Florida produced goats are sold on the hoof directly to
consumers or to traders (dealers). Another limiting factor is
the lack of commercial markets such as -. auctions,
although a relatively recent development is the growth of
where goats, other small animals and poultry
are sold in weekend flea-market type sales.
The mnoas sr ri marw riketing .- - "- Florida goat
producers is the lack ... : facilities. Establishment
of : :: .. : ... :.:..: : ." :. : .:, ---

ance of '-.. volume to make it economically viable
would t' expand the market potential for goat meat.
While :: -. ...... of a . t,.. should bea
top priority, a cooperative marketing association could also
. f...t and. : sales of live animals as well.

Covington, Bea and James ,
Meat Goat oduction in Florida", : Meat Goat
Industry, Circular 1153, :;. -.'0 Extension Srvc,
Insitutc of Fud and Agricultural Scionces, Univcrsaity of
Florida, '! 3 r.. ; ; . ;*- 1995.

Meat in Selected M u' Florida Markets, Industry
Rpor 88-3, Florida Agricultural Market Research Center,
Si.: ; :. ..: ;- ... ..; l Sciences, University of
: Gainesvill, Florida. May. 1988.
)oEgr, RobCrt -Lh keng e lMea. c ta a Fou-LettIe
Word". Paper presented to the Cashmere Producers of
c Tulsa, Oklahoma, November, 1990.
IJhnson, Dwain, -. .: .: o.:. t Goat Meat Pro-
duced in Floda", Florida's Meat Circlar
-'- : . . :. : - oodand
Agicultural Sciences, of Foid, o 1,.....
Florida, April 1995.
Kenyon, Ken, "The History of the Florida Meat Goat Associs-
tion" ... :. --c Meat .i .; ., :- Circular 1153, Coop-
erative Extension Service, Institute ::e and Agricul-
tural Sciences, University of Florida, - ..
.- 1995.
Locascio, I David and Robert L Degner, Opnions and Ati-

Mea Staff Report 14. Cooperative Extensio ..
lasata f od ad Ag iculurti Sciace, .. of
Florida, Gainesville, Florida, ;. 1995.
U.S. Department of Coanere. U.S. Census of Population and
Housing, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., 1990.

- - - - -- -

Figure 2. r- i- c nels for meat animals.

Figure 3. Florida's ;... channelsfor goats and
goat meat.

F, "3 -; .
. .... _.. -._ ,
/ --3-

i 'C

i. /- ~ --
/. .. '.. .. ..

Figure L A srhematie of market forces and the impact
an expanded customer base.


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