An Investigation of the General and Niche Market Goat Meat Demand

Final Report for LS02-138

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $161,074.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Mack C. Nelson
Fort Valley State University
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Project Information


The eleven state region from Texas to North Carolina (TX, LA, OK, AR, MS, AL, FL, GA, TN, SC and NC) is the goat production region. The region accounted for 78% of all goat production and 81% of meat goat production in 1997. Meat goats in the U.S. have been minor food animals but their numbers and importance to farm income have increased in recent years, particularly in the South. The number of farms producing meat goats in the region between 1992 and 1997 increased by more than 59%. All states in the region had substantial gains in meat goat production and this production took place primarily on small farms. Net imports of goat meat also increased dramatically during the period. Changes in goat production and net imports are thought to be related to increases in the segment of the population that have preferences for goat products. The implication of these statistics is an increased goat meat demand. However, little research is available that explain the consumption demographics of goat meat.

Historical data series are not readily available on goat production, marketing and consumption. Thus, information on consumption, product characteristics desired, the markets used by goat producers are not widely available nor is the relative importance of the markets or characteristics of the markets. Little is known also about the production problems experienced by producers and their relative importance on decision making.

Project Objectives:

To establish the level of consumption and demand within the general population and identify opportunities for increased consumption, identify the goat meat products desired and estimate the potential level of demand.

To assess the level of demand and product characteristics desired by the Hispanic niche market. This assessment will also seek to determine the effects of income levels, educational attainment, integration into the larger community, the passing of food consumption preferences from parents to offspring and other socioeconomic demographic factors on demand/consumption.

To study the feasibility of strategic alliances between producers, and producers and marketing entities to efficiently exploit markets as influenced by producer and farm characteristics including herd size, land holdings, adoption of breeding and production technologies.


Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Will Getz
  • Jack Houston
  • Donald McDowell
  • Patricia E. McLean-Meyinsse
  • Alfred L. Parks
  • Alden Peters
  • Ginny Skinner


Materials and methods:

The Consumer Survey

The consumer telephone survey was conducted in late spring 2004 through the Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia. The survey was conducted in eleven (11) southern states (Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma) and more than 2751 households were interviewed with 2751 usable schedules competed. The households chosen for inclusion in the survey were the result of a random sampling procedure using a random digit dial process of residents within the states with hardline telephone service. Each state has a range of respondents from a minimum of 237 to a maximum of 257, with the exception of Georgia and Florida. In Georgia and Florida an intentional attempt was made to secure a sub-sample of Hispanic residents. Thus, a data base of residents with Hispanic surnames having hardline telephone service in Georgia and Florida was secured for each state and a random sample of those residents were drawn using the random digit dial process. Spanish-speaking interviewers were secured to call all the residents in Georgia and Florida with Hispanic surnames.

The questionnaire used in the survey had forty-eight primary questions. Twenty-three of the questions had one layer but the other twenty-five questions had multiple layers of queries. The number of multiple-layer queries ranged up to eight in an effort to collect detail information. The primary questions fell into several areas or categories which included: (1) consumption behavior of respondents regarding whether they consumed goat meat at the time of the survey, whether they were willing to consume more goat meat, how much the household consumed, and whether there was a willingness to buy more goat meat as a substitute for non-goat meat products; (2) consumer preferences for various cuts of the goat, for different sensory attributes such as freshness, color, and fat content; for health and risk factors (cholesterol, freedom of chemicals and USDA inspection, etc.); (3) methods of cooking such as broiling, roasting, barbeque as well as dishes make from goat meat including soups, meat sauce, chili, meat loaf, etc.; (4) consumption of other meats including beef, pork, turkey, chicken, lamb and fish; (5) demographic information such as gender, age, racial affiliation, household size, family structure, immigrant status; (6) socioeconomic factors including education and household income; (7) marketing tools used such as food page advertisements, store displays, price specials, in-supermarket taste tests as well as other taste tests, safety assurances, goat meat convenience products.

The analysis of the regional data set concentrated on examining the demand for goat meat and its potential increase. Econometric models using socioeconomic and demographic variables were used to study the layers of demand: (1) current demand; (2) demand increases from per capita consumption; (3) demand increases from new consumers; and (4) demand change with respect to season and special occasions. The results of the four levels of demand are reported in the following section.

A survey was conducted of producers using the personal interview technique in Alabama, Georgia and Texas. The survey sought information on farmer and farm characteristics, production management and marketing practices,the producers future outlook for the enterprise and its previous profitability. In addition, data were collected and analyzed from Georgia’s meat goat markets in an effort to determine levels of consistency and to assess which components of the niche markets that producers were supplying.

Research results and discussion:

We used the data from the survey conducted in 11 southern states to elicit consumers’ demand and preferences for various goat meat products. Econometric models were fitted to examine the existing demand, potential demand, and seasonal demand for goat meat. Our findings confirmed that there exists a substantial demand and a great potential demand for goat meat. Multiple factors contribute to goat meat purchase, but the dominant impact comes from demographics. Ethnic and age groups are the promising niche markets for goat meat. Demand for chevon and its potential increase are evidenced in eleven southern states. The demand was reflected on the purchasing of current customers, the propensity of per capita consumption increases, the potential of new entrants in the market, and the seasonal pattern of consumption.

Multiple factors weighted in the determination of chevon demand. Ethnic affiliations, age, real income, and consumer preference are of importance. Ethnic affiliations and age factors played a special role in niche markets. The impacts of minority groups were substantial and will increase because of the growing importance of immigrants in the United States population demographics. The niche market associated with the elder will also grow because of the “baby boom” retirement in the coming years. Seasonal demand reflects a special characteristic of the goat meat market. The promotion to stable and non-seasonal consumption through the provision of new chevon products should not be neglected.

The study analyzes consumer preferences for various attributes of chevon, their impacts on consumers’ purchasing behavior, and the determination of preferences. The study identified the discrepancies in preferences among various consumers, the major preferences driving demand, and the major demographics in the determination of preferences. Our findings indicate the growing potential of goat meat demand attribute products and some niche markets.

A study was done of information on three categories of goat meat attributes, including search attributes, experience attributes and credence attributes. Using analysis of variance and the Kruskal-Wallis Test, we found significant differences among rankings of various attributes. Intrinsic search attributes such as color and freshness remain very important to consumers, which confirms discoveries in earlier studies. Color, price, and freshness ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. A similar finding is consumers’ ranked safety assurance (government inspections) as the most important attribute, which reflects the increased public awareness of risk associated with food products, particularly meat products. One of the focuses of efforts was using the regional consumer survey to study consumers’ preferences for cuts of chevon. One study assessed consumers’ rankings of four major chevon cuts, to include; the shoulder, ribs, hind-leg and loin chop. Results of a Kruskal – Wallis test revealed the loin chop as the most favored cut of chevon. The concern for cholesterol contents remains, but was not ranked very high across all consumers. Consumers did not show significant difference in preferences for various cuts, except for the loin chop, organic growth and various advertisements. This may not be the case, however, when efforts are made to expand consumption beyond the existing niche markets. An examination of the ranking of attributes among two subgroups, current consumers and those likely to consume if the product was made readily available, was conducted. Present consumers, dominated by lower income respondents, ranked government inspection labeling most important and price second with cholesterol and fat content ranked as third and fourth. The potential consumers ranked government inspection, fat content, cholesterol content and price first, second, third and fourth, respectively. Thus, quality assurance, fat and cholesterol content and prices are the bundles of the top fourth attributes most important to existing and potential consumers of goat meat products.

Consumer preferences are rooted deeply in demographic, social, and economic characteristics of populations. As for preferences for freshness and color of goat meat, the main influencing factors are gender and household structure. Small households and female consumers have a higher standard, but differences among other groups were not identified. For meat assurance, the major influencing factors are age, education and income. Consumers with higher education, elder age and higher income require a high assurance standard. The organic growth was supposed to be an important attribute, but our data neither show a large ranking of importance nor identify differences in preference among consumers. Consumers’ concern with cholesterol content remains, and is mainly from the elder, higher education and income groups.

Our analyses of consumer preferences suggest that keeping safety assurance, freshness and bright color of goat meat is the first one of many marketing strategies. In addition, products promoted in the market should be valued high in terms of health related attributes, such as cholesterol contents, which are the concerns of an increasing number of consumers, especially those with higher income, education, and the elder. The organic growth, various cuts, except the loin chop, as well as advertisements may not be as important as recommended in other studies, hence may not be considered as urgent marketing options. In another analysis Hispanic non-consumers were 22 percent less likely than Blacks to be unwilling to consume goat meat regardless of age and the difference was significant. Males were 10 percent less likely than females to express an unwillingness to try goat meat. Educational attainment also influenced willingness to consume goat meat. Respondents with graduate and/or professional degrees were 12 percent more likely to express a willingness to consume than those with less educational attainment. Respondents residing in the southern half of the South Atlantic region and the East South-Central region were 7 percent and 10 percent more likely to be unwilling to consume goat meat than respondents living in the West South-Central region, respectively. Previous lamb consumption decreased the probability of being a non-consumer of goat meat by 19 percent.

Exiting Demand

The number of respondents available for this level of analysis of demand was 2675 rather than the entire sample. No substitution effect was found for lamb, as expected. Race is a critical factor for current goat meat consumers and the likelihood of goat meat consumption for the nonwhite population is significantly higher than for the white population. Older consumers were significantly more likely than others to be consumers of goat meat and the peak consumer age group or range was 55-74 years of age.

No significant effects were observed for education for existing demand, however, significant effects were observed for gender, income, and geographic location. Males’ odd of consuming was significantly greater than for females. Households with incomes of $25,000 and below are more likely to be existing goat meat consumers than other income ranges. Nine of the eleven states had similar consumption tendencies but Florida consumers were less likely to consume the product and those in Texas were more likely to be existing consumers.

Demand from Per Capita Consumption Increase

The survey results suggest that current per capita consumption in the region is somewhat low. Half of the current consumers buy only about 4 pounds of goat meat annually. However, in excess of 48% of the households indicated a willingness to consume more goat meat. Race is a significant demographic factor influencing per capita consumption. Blacks and multi-culture households are more likely to increase per capita consumption while Hispanics are less likely to consume more. Of great interest are the attitudinal variables on the willingness to consume. Consumers that are price sensitive, interested in supermarket taste tests, and like convenient goat meat products are more likely to consume more if goat meat is available in their local supermarkets.

Demand Increase from New Consumers

Pork consumption, race, and income are less important on demand increases from new consumers but beef consumption, age, gender, and geographic influences are more important. Households consuming more beef are more willing to try goat meat. Older respondents are more likely to become new consumers and females are less likely to shift to goat meat consumption. Stores displays, price specials, in-supermarket test and USDA inspection will have significant impacts on demand increases from new consumers of goat meat products.

Demand Change from Season and Special Occasions

Education, income, gender, the ranking of the importance of marketing tools and pork consumption play a role in seasonal demand for goat meat products. Consumers with higher educational attainment tend to consume more goat meat products on a non-seasonal basis but households with higher incomes tend to consume goat seasonally. Females are more likely to be year round goat meat consumers when compared to males that consume goat meat. In addition, those respondents that rank in-store displays and meat price specials high tend to change consumption patterns by season.

Blacks of non-African American origin tend to have less occasional consumption patterns but Hispanic and multiracial respondents are likely to have more consumption associated with special occasions. Younger respondents are likely to show a seasonal consumption tendency while older respondents eat goat meat more regularly. Also, households ranking meat taste tests low tended to consume goat meat more regularly than those ranking it high.

A master’s thesis study was completed using Georgia and Florida data with the primary emphasis of assessing willingness to try goat meat products. Willingness to try goat meat was a combined variable made up of respondents that were current consumers of goat meat and those respondents that were not consumers but indicated a willingness to consume the product. The focus of this analysis was to examine potential demand and to compare the demand among Hispanics with that of the general population.

Statistics revealed that about 25 percent of Hispanics compared to 12 percent of the general population were goat meat consumers. However, when comparing non-goat meat consumers’ willingness to try goat meat products, about 32 percent of Hispanic were willing to try the product to about 30 percent of non-Hispanics. Significant demographic variables were household size and age. As the household size increased, willingness to try goat meat products increased. Respondents between the ages 55 – 64 were significantly more willing to try goat meat products and this result is consistent with that found with the regional data set.

The attitudinal variables of price specials and fat content significantly impacted willingness to try goat meat but a more extensive list impacted regional demand. The perception held about goat meat had an impact on willingness to try the product, as the perception changed from positive the probability increased by more than 58 percent. Respondents with a lamb consumption history were about 49 percent more willing to try goat meat products than non-lamb consumers.

There was no significant difference observed in willingness to try goat meat by gender and educational attainment for Hispanics. However, a significant difference was observed by origin (Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican). There was not a significant difference in willingness to try goat meat products between those Hispanics that were first generation in the United States and those of more generations in the country. However, this outcome may be influence by the size and location of the sample. There was a significant age effect for Hispanics but younger Hispanic were more willing to try goat meat than the general population. The only two attitudinal factors significantly impacting willingness to try goat meat products among Hispanics were price specials and safety of the product.

Producer Survey

Analyses were conducted of data collected, using personal interviews, from about 100 producers from Alabama, Georgia and Texas. The survey sought information not limited to the size of farms, years of experience, production management practices, marketing techniques, producers’ outlooks for meat goat production and expansion and perceptions of factors influencing efficient meat goat production. Producers averaged about five years in business with some with goat production experience exceeding 30 years. The respondents’ outlook for growth in the meat goat industry was very positive and more than 80 percent expected to expand their meat goat enterprises. Producers with more than five years experience in the business was most optimism about expansion. The size of the operation was also positively associated with a positive outlook and about 90 percent of producers with more than 100 animals indicated that they would expand the size of their operations. These results may suggest that there may be some economies associated with years of experience and size of operations.

About 70 percent of the operators indicated that they owned Boer goats and 43 and 15 percent also owned Spanish and Kiko animals, respectively. More than 65 percent had crossbreeds and the crosses were most frequently between Boer and Spanish. The most frequently cited obstacle to goat production was controlling internal parasites. Marketing, feeding practices and prices received were the second through fourth most cited concerns of producers and producers expressed an interest in forming marketing cooperatives. Producers were asked rank the top five marketing practices used to sell their animals. Visitors to the farm was ranked as the most important marketing method by more than 44 percent of the producers and goat auctions were ranked as second at 42 percent. About 39 percent and 35 percent respectively, listed breeding stock sales and livestock auction as the third and fourth important method. The large percentage listing breeding livestock sales are probably not representative of all producers but is understandable because of the large number of producers with Boer goats.

Meat Goat Markets Data

The carcass weight and/or live weight of meat goats desired by important niche market consumers has been identified. Hispanics, Muslims and Caribbean populations make up three of the most important niche markets for goat meat. However, preferences for type of product differ. Hispanics, the largest and fastest growing U.S. minority group, prefer young kids (cabrito) weighting 15 – 25 pounds live weight and/or young goats that yield a 25-pound carcass that is derived from animals approximately 50 pounds live weight. Muslims prefer carcasses in the 35-pound range or a live weight animal of approximately 70 pounds with lean carcasses. Immigrants from the Caribbean, especially those from Haiti and Jamaica, prefer carcasses from older and more mature animals when compared to those preferred by Hispanics and Muslims.

There is little or no published information available on whether producers are meeting the carcass or live weight demands of these important niche markets. The number of intermediaries between the producer and consumer are much less numerous for goat meat compared to those for other important meat products in the United States (beef, pork and poultry). Thus, it is important for the producer to put animals into the marketing channel close to what is demanded by the targeted market. However, no studies were found regarding the importance of and the variability measures associated with the various classification of meat goats marketed. Thus, the primary objectives of this effort were to examine the predominant classification of goats marketed and the total variability in price for goat classes within selected Georgia markets.

Data for this study are taken from various releases from the USDA AMS – Georgia Department of Agriculture, Livestock Division Market News Branch, Thomasville, GA. The data are for four Georgia Goat Markets from 9 January 2006 through 3 September 2007. The four markets are located in Ambrose, Eastanollee, Metter, and Pearson. Metter and Pearson sales are held twice a month and the Ambrose and Eastanollee markets sales are once a month. Therefore, 72 observations are possible per year across these markets. The data for this report is from the slaughter classes, which is the predominate general classification. The slaughter classification components are Kids, Billies/Bucks, Nannies/Does, Yearlings and Wethers. Each component is further subdivided by weight categories. Kids are reported as 20 – 40 lbs. and 40 – 60 lbs.; Billies/Bucks are reported as 75 – 100 lbs., 100 – 150 lbs., and 150 – 300 lbs.; Nannies/Does are reported as 60 – 80 lbs., 80 – 100 lbs. and 100 – 120 lbs.; Wethers are reported as 20 – 40 lbs., 40 – 60 lbs. and 60 – 80 lbs.; and Yearlings are reported as 20 – 40 lbs., 40 – 60 lbs., and 60 – 80 lbs. Reports of sales of Wethers and 20 – 40 pound Yearlings were infrequent and these classes are not used in all analysis. The price recorded for all classification of animals is reported as price per head.

A major problem in agriculture is the high degree of uncertainty in production and marketing decision making. This uncertainty results because of the inability to predict and/or control economic and non-economic forces, which includes weather, diseases, parasites and other such factors. Therefore, better production and marketing decisions can be made only if there is knowledge of the stability and level of income resulting from the possible production and marketing options. Descriptive statistics and total variability price indexes were calculated for each class of animal.

A total of 24,471 animals were sold through the four markets during the observation period. Most animals were sold through these markets during the spring and summer months with relatively few animals sold during the winter months. Greater than 50-percent of the animals were sold during the March – June four month period and more than 77- percent of the animals were sold during the March – August six month period. The month of May accounted for about 20-percent of total animal sales and the average number of animals per sale during the month of May was about 442.

The importance of the months ranked by the mean price was determined for the various classification of animals. The mean highest price for the kid category was generally received in the Spring and Summer months. Kids 20 – 40 lbs. received their highest price in April followed by March, February, May, June and July. Kids in the 40 – 60 lbs. category also received their highest price in April, followed by March, February, May, June and July. The February – July six month time period is generally the period where average price is the highest for all classification of animals. The smaller classification of nannies and yearlings more closely followed the price observations for kids.

The March – June time period are also generally the time that the highest average prices are received for kids. In addition, the general classifications of kids were the most frequently marketed of all classification of animals.

The mean price ranged from a low of $35.72 for 20 – 40 lbs. kids to a high of $110.12 for 100 – 150 lbs. billies/bucks. The price variability index ranged from a low of 14 for 20 – 40 lbs. kids to a high of 37 for 100 – 150 lbs. billies/bucks. Kids 20 – 40 lbs. and 40 – 60 lbs. variability indexes were lower than any other category of goats and were the most frequently marketed classes of animals. Yearlings 40 – 60 lbs. and 60 – 80 lbs. price variability indexes were greater than 17 and 22, respectively. Yearlings in these weight classes had the second smallest overall price variability indexes but were marketed must less frequent than the two classifications of kids. Generally, nannies and billies/bucks are not normally marketed as slaughter classes of animals unless there are some extenuating circumstances that move these classes into the marketing system.

In the cattle and hog industry the major share of male animals moving through the broader marketing system into the human meat consumption market as beef and pork is from castrated animals. The marketing of wethers was very infrequent through these markets during the study period. The mean price of wethers, both 20 – 40 lbs. and 60 – 80 lbs. were not noticeable different from that received by kids. The price variability index for wethers was not calculated because of the limited number of observations. It is thought that wethers are not frequently marketed because castration leads to significant reduction in the rate of weight gain and most male goats are marketed before they exhibit the male characteristics that negatively influence desirable meat attributes.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Erika Knight. An Evaluation of Consumer Preferences Regarding Goat Meat in Florida. Master’s Thesis. University of Florida, Gainesville, Department of Food and Resources Economics. Spring 2005.

Erika Knight, Lisa House, Mack C. Nelson and Robert Degner. An Evaluation of Consumer Preference Regarding Goat Meat in the South. Journal of Food Distribution Research. Volume XXXVII, Number 1, March 2006. Page 88 – 96.

Mack C. Nelson, Jackie Whitehead, Seyedmedhi Mobini, Nathaniel B. Brown, Jr., and Marc Thomas. Journal of Food Distribution Research. Volume XXXV, Number 1, March 2004. Page 147 -161.

Xuanli Liu, Mack C. Nelson and Mohammed Ibrahim. Analyzing Consumer’s Calculation Factors in the Purchase Decision of Goat Meat. Journal of Food Distribution Research. Volume XXXVIII, Number 1, March 2007. Page 196 – 202.

Xuanli Liu and Mack C. Nelson. Demand Potential for Goat Meat in Southern States: Empirical Evidence from a Multi-State Goat Meat Consumer Survey. Paper selected for presentation at the American Agricultural Economics Association annual Meeting, Providence, Rhode Island. 24-27 July 2005.

Xuanli Liu, Mack C. Nelson and Mohammad Ibrahim. Analyzing Consumer’s Calculations Factors in the Purchase Decision of Goat Meat. Paper selected for presentation at the Food Distribution Research Association Annual Meeting, Quebec Canada. 14-18 October 2006.

Xuanli Liu, Mack C. Nelson and Paul McNamara. Assessing the Critical Deficiencies of Information on Food Safety: Evidence in Building Farm to Table Simulation Models. Paper presented at the 64th PAWC Annual Meeting, Tuskegee, Alabama. 3-5 December 2006.

Xuanli Liu and Mack C. Nelson. Ranking Risk Factors in the Goat Meat Supply Chain Based on Risk Simulation Model. Paper selected for presentation at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association 39th Annual Meeting, Mobile, Alabama. 4-6 February 2007.

Mohammed Ibrahim, Xuanli Liu and Mack C. Nelson. A Pilot Study of Halal Goat Meat Consumption in Atlanta. Paper selected for presentation at the Food Distribution Research Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 2007.

Xuanli Liu, Mack C. Nelson and Mohammed Ibrahim. Assessing the Value of Information in Precision Farming. Paper selected for presentation at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas. February 2008.

Xuanli Liu, Mack C. Nelson and Mohammed Ibrahim. Analysis of Consumption Behavior of Hispanics and Its Impact on the Goat Meat Market. Paper selected for presentation at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas. February 2008.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Our analyses of consumer preferences suggest that safety assurance, freshness and bright color of goat meat are the number one marketing strategy to increase consumption. This consumer’s preference is most influenced by gender. Females and smaller households demand higher quality assurances of goat meat products. Consumer concern with cholesterol content is high and most notably with consumers with higher incomes and educational attainment as well as with older consumers.

Race is a critical factor for current goat meat consumption. Compared to whites, the odds ratio of goat consumption is .33 for American Blacks, 1.42 for Black non-African Americans and 1.18 for Hispanics. Older consumers were significantly more likely than other consumers to consume goat meat and the peak consuming age group is in the age range 55-74. Males are significantly more likely to be consumers of goat meat products than females.

Willingness to consume more goat meat was reported by more than 48% of respondents. Blacks and multi-culture households are much more likely to increase consumption compared to others. Value adding activities such as prepacked products, labeling, and cooking instructions are factors that are expected to influence increases in consumption. Increases in demand from new consumers are likely to be influenced by store displays, price specials, in-supermarket tests and USDA inspections.

Blacks of non-African American origin tend to have less occasional consumption patterns but Hispanics and multiracial respondents are likely to have more consumption associated with special occasions. Women that consume goat meat are more regular consumers than men and also are more likely to be year round goat meat consumers.

There is evidence from Georgia markets that producers are supplying meat goats that meet the characteristics most desired by Hispanics and Muslims, two of the most important niche markets for meat goats.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.