As one of the first domesticated herd animals worldwide, goats have been used for their meat, fleece, hides and milk for more than two thousand years. With over 90% of Australian goat meat production exported, this export dominated product has also been swept up in the surging global demand for red-meat. This article looks at the trends in goat production and exports over the past twenty years.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), goat meat production in Australia has averaged around 10,000 tonnes per year from 2000 – 2020. Queensland and Victoria have battled for top rank, with production in VIC staying strong at around 6,000 tonnes per year over the past five years (figure 1).

Western Australia has the largest population of feral goats, however, the number of farmed goats is dominated by VIC. To our regular sheep and cattle readers, these are not huge numbers, but goat meat is still a widely-eaten meat product from a global perspective.

Over-the-hook (OTH) goat prices have surged in recent years. In September 2011, goats from 8 – 20+kg were 284¢/kg cwt OTH. Prices dipped lower than this, hovering around the 150-160¢/kg cwt mark in early 2013, before skyrocketing to where they currently are now around 867-910 ¢/kg cwt. The 16-20kg goats latest price is at 910¢/kg cwt (29th Sept ‘21), a whopping 220% increase from the same time in 2011 (figure 2). For comparison, the Queensland OTH price for Medium Steer has risen 130%, and mutton, about 50% over the same time frame.

In terms of exports, according to Meat & Livestock Australia, the value of Australian goat meat exports totalled A$145.5 million in 2020, down 38% from 2019 levels. However, total goat meat exports in 2021 are operating 20% stronger than 2020 year-to-date levels.

Australia is actually the biggest goat meat exporter in the world (despite accounting for around 1% of world goat production). The USA has been and still is our biggest customer. Year to date, we have sent 8,000 tonnes swt to the USA. The next biggest customer is South Korea, which has received 1,592 tonnes year to date, followed closely by Taiwan with 1,446 tonnes (Figure 3). 

The USA share of total AUS exports has averaged 56% over the last 20 years and 66% over the past five years. In 2021, the USA has taken 63% of our goatmeat exports (to September).

Goat meat still only makes up only a fraction of our total red-meat exports and this hasn’t changed drastically over the past 20 years. (figure 4) 

What does it mean?

So, is goat the GOAT (greatest of all time)? Well, if you are a well-established goat producer or harvester, prices have rarely been so good. However, the same can be said for cattle and sheep. While Australia is clearly not the biggest producer in the international field and maybe not the GOAT, it remains an important part of Australia’s diverse agricultural industry and like all red-meat the demand outlook is strong.  

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Key Points

  • OTH goat prices have risen significantly over the last 10 years and are currently trading historically strong levels.
  • Australia is the biggest goatmeat exporter in the world.
  • Although making up a fraction of red meat production in Australia, goats are still worth looking at for demand seems to be growing, and the animal has advantages in some respects.

Click on figure to expand

Click on figure to expand

Click on figure to expand

Data sources:  ABS, MLA, DAFF, Mecardo. 

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