Who buys your market goats? FRANKLY SPEAKING

Ethnic groups buy the vast majority of slaughter goats on offer

in the U.S. The largest such group is the Latino/Mexican-American consumers. Early on, TX and CA were the largest markets but now- adays this group has spread almost nationwide. They took 18.5% (60,000 hd) last year. The second largest ethnic group are descendants from India, Pa- kistan, Bangladesh and southeast Asia. Precise numbers/country are not available, but the total number is estimated to be increasing, with Indians and Filipinos being the most numerous consumers. (Australia furnishes goat meat to Japan, Taiwan and Korea; we do not.) The third largest ethnic group are descendants of Muslim im- migrants who came/come here from Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Ban- gladesh, South Africa, Iraq and the small Mid-Eastern oil-rich countries, mostly in the last 30 years or so.

The current Census does not identify immigrants by religious

group; however, other sources show the U.S. to have about 3.4 mil- lion Muslims or 1.1% of our population (2017). This number is ex- pected to double over the next 50 years, if not sooner. Readers should understand that the word Muslim denotes a re-

ligious group (not an ethnic or racial or political group). Group membership includes two factions, Sunnis and Shias (sort of like Christendom’s Protestants and Catholics). See WikIpedia, ‘Islam in the United States’, for demographic and geographic distribution pat- terns and annual holiday schedules. New York City and urban New Jersey have the highest concen- tration of Muslim residents followed by IL, MI, and CA. Patterson, N.J., has a packing plant that processes about 100,000 goats annually from U.S. producers. Muslin holidays create seasonal demand spikes that sharply, but temporarily, increase the prices of slaughter goats across the U.S. Do remember that the Muslim holiday dates move forward by 11-12 days every year on our calendar. There is a fourth group of novice goat meat eaters in the U.S. …mostly white, younger and more affluent/educated buyers who are beginning to consume meat from animals raised in natural circum- stances (for example, grass-fed beef, not feedlot finished beef) and they want goats that have not been raised in confinement facilities and who are slaughtered ‘humanely, i.e., stunned, prior to bleed-out). Such buyers, young and older, are intentionally making a ‘social

statement’ with their purchases via this procurement procedure. We see these groups most frequently in the Northeastern corridor, VA to MA, and in CA, OR and WA.

In any case, readers should recognize that all these ethnic groups are the primary purchasers of goat meat in the U.S. They are goat producer’s targeted market. Without them, there would be no shortage of slaughter goats in the U.S. and, as a result, prices of breeding stock would fall precipitously. Do not believe it otherwise.

How long can a good thing last?

This question (together with some pertinent observations) was 12 Goat Rancher | October 2021


posed to me by University of Minnesota livestock extension special- ist, Wayne Martin, after I suggested to him, and others, that a recent change in Australian export policy might well divert more Australian live goats to the Mideast with a concomitant reduction in frozen goat meat coming to the U.S. If so, I said, American producers could confidently expect prices of slaughter goats and, accordingly, breeding goats to remain high, and possibly go appreciably higher, over the next 5 years or so. Subsequently, Wayne questioned me as to how long might it take be- fore increased production led to market saturation and thus cause prices to producers to drop sharply? I punted to my meats-man col- league, Ken McMillin, for informed comment. I now share his an- swer:

“Great question, Wayne. Our article in the September Goat

Rancher addressed the challenge of increasing domestic supplies of goat meat. The ethnic population that has traditionally consumed goat is increasing from 2 to 3% or more per year. The meat goat in- dustry has a wide variation in numbers of does per farm and aver- aged only 12 does per goat farm, according to the 2017 Ag Census. “If 25% of the farms doubled the number of does per farm, that would just about equal the shortfall in goat meat that wasn’t received from Australia last fall. If Frank’s predictions about the western Aus- tralia slaughter plants diverting sheep and goat meat to the Middle East consumers occur (and I also believe this is likely due to eco- nomic and cultural reasons), then the shortfall will be even greater if the ethnic populations continue to grow at the current rate. Ob- viously, ethic consumers have limited resources and we speculate that the retail ceiling price would be about $10/lb. Currently, it is anyone’s guess as to the ceiling price for goat meat that ethnic consumers will pay at holiday times.”

In economic parlance, ‘ceiling price’ is defined as the point at which consumers will shift from a preferred product to a lower priced product. Retail goat carcass prices at Christmas 2020 went just over $10/lb in NYC and Philly yet consumers still cleared the offerings. Know also that live goat prices went well over $4/lb for the 3-day Muslim Eids holiday this past summer. Thus, their goat carcass would have been around $11/lb in retail outlets.

Retired Langston University goat Extension Specialist Dr. Steve Hart tells us that he heard a PhD Ag Economist speak at the National Kiko Registry meeting in May who predicted goat prices would re- main strong indefinitely for several reasons: drought in Texas and other states limiting goat production, no increase in national goat pro- duction numbers for the past several years, increased ethnic pop- ulation from porous borders and inflation. Too, higher grain prices may discourage more goat production. Also, Australia is coming out of an extensive drought and will be rebuilding goat herds. Readers should know that Ken Mc and I will be polling Uni-

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