Figure 1. Trends in goat inventory numbers, slaughter, and imports.

Figure 3. Amounts (pounds) and customs value ($ per pound) of goat meat imports into the U.S. from 1996 to 2019.

Figure 2. Domestic slaughter (head), goat meat imports (as 34 lb car- cass equivalents), and percent of imports as total amounts of goat meat from available data from 1990 to 2019.

Figure 4. Numbers of goats slaughtered in federal plants (and numbers of federal goat slaughter plants) by state in 2019.

A majority (61%) of the imported goat meat came into the U.S. through the Philadelphia port (Table 1), with 18% arriving through Miami. Note that no goat meat was reported to enter through New York, San Juan or Honolulu ports, probably for various reasons. Laredo, TX, surpassed Houston-Galveston for imports, with the goat meat entering from Mexico, but it is doubtful that the goats and re- sulting goat meat originated there as the reported customs value was $0.22 per pound less than the average reported customs value for all goat meat imported into the U.S. in 2019.

An indication of the domestic slaughter is in Figure 4, with numbers of goats slaughtered in federal plants and the number of fed- eral plants given by state. The states having federal slaughter where providing the specific slaughter numbers would disclose information about specific companies are included in the other category although estimates from previous years are included on the map for some states.

The federal slaughter also increased by 6% in 2019 (545,458) compared to 2018 (514,170), but is still far below the 670,000+ goats slaughtered in 2008, the year of highest meat goat inventory numbers in the U.S. The slaughter in state-inspected plants was 129,700 goats, for a total reported 675,200 goats slaughtered in U.S. inspected fa- cilities last year.

The 18% increase in imported meat and 8.6% increase in do- mestic slaughter outpaced the 0.60% U.S. population growth from 2018 to 2019, but the approximately 16% of U.S. population reported to be foreign-born continue to drive demand for goat meat. As we have earlier told elsewhere, domestic retail prices for do-

mestic goat meat ranged $8-10/lb (carcass basis) in the NY/NJ/PA ethnic markets, Thanksgiving to Easter, while prices of imported goat meat were half that much or less, depending on religious and secular holidays. Note that West Coast retail prices for imported goat meat are routinely lower than east coast prices primarily because of re- duced freight costs from Australia. There may also be different cul- turally-induced preferences (willingness to pay) between West Coast and East Coast ethnic buyers.

Goat industry trends

As readers know all too well, the Covid-19 virus is negatively impacting life as we know it and will do so for an unforeseen time. Its initial impact on our industry regarding consumer demand (buying practices) for goat meat first this year became noticeable in the 3- week period before Easter Sunday April 12, 2020. Normally this period sees peak prices to producers for slaughter goats, but not so this year!

During this period, Texas largest goat auctions posted sharp

price drops for #1 kids from $3.00+/lb to $2.50/2.60/lb while #2 kids brought $2.10-2.20/lb. We are told by auction personnel that their packer buyers were taking fewer goats and paying less/lb because packers on both coasts were seeing reduced sales to retail outlets be- cause ethnic consumer traffic was in erratic decline. However, Texas and other auctions in the Southeast and Mid- west saw an unexpected increase in slaughter prices in the weeks post-Easter. Normally, such prices decrease after Easter, are some- what lower in May and drop sharply in the June-swoon as more and

August 2020 | Goat Rancher 15

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