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Exports of niche food you won't see in Aussie supermarkets doubles

You're more likely to see this Aussie meat if you're holidaying in Jamaica.

Left - meat at Coles in the deli section. Right - close up of Australian goat meat for sale in Jamaica.
While you're unlikely to see goat meat for sale at Coles or Woolworths, if you fly to Jamaica you'll probably see Aussie product on shelves. Source: Supplied

Australia has quietly exported 36,903 tonnes of a niche food last year, doubling production in just three years. Goat is rare to see in major supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths, but Australia is actually the world’s largest exporter.

Of the livestock raised here, 95 per cent is sent overseas. And that's mostly because there just isn't the same awareness of other proteins like tofu, legumes, chicken, beef or pork.

China and South Korea are major customers, however, demand for Australia’s goat meat is highest in the United States.

That’s because states like New York, Florida and Los Angeles have large communities originally from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, where the meat is used in traditional cooking.

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You should expect to see Australian meat on the shelves in the Caribbean if you find yourself in a supermarket while on holiday. Our goat meat accounts for 80 per cent of products exported to the region.

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“Cities with a diverse cultural mix and a higher concentration of populations from various ethnic backgrounds often exhibit higher demand for goat meat. These groups often maintain their culinary traditions and preferences after migrating,” a new report from independent regulator Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) revealed.

Australia's production of goat dropped significantly in 2020 due to adverse conditions that impacted supply.

But MLA's report found exports hit an all-time high of 136 per cent from 2020 to 2023.

However, total profit was down 10 per cent to $235 million from 2022 due to a drop in the price.

A small flock of Boer goats for sale at a stockyard in Dubbo.
These Boer goats for sale in Dubbo are more likely to be eaten in the United States or China than Australia. Source: MLA

While most goats are slaughtered in Australia, a small number of animals are controversially exported animals alive — a practice opposed by the RSPCA on animal welfare grounds.

But goat meat live exports are not as high profile as cattle and sheep as it is a much smaller industry. In 2023 it amounted to $7 million – just 3 per cent of the total goat meat export value.

Malaysia is the biggest buyer of Australian goats exported live for slaughter while China mostly imports breeding animals.

Inspired by its overseas success, MLA now hopes to grow the goat meat market domestically.

MLA is working with a former MasterChef contestant and leading with the tagline: “Give goat a go.”

So you might soon start seeing more goat at local butchers and restaurants.

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