Increasing the sustainability of northeastern goat farms via the establishment of value-added goat meat products in new, nontraditional markets

Final Report for ONE06-054

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2006: $9,973.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $17,100.00
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
H. Louis Cooperhouse
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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Project Information

Summary:

This project, entitled “Increasing the Sustainability of Northeast Goat Farms via the establishment of Value-Added Goat Meat Products in new, non-traditional markets” seeks to increase the sustainability and growth of goat farms located in the Northeast by cultivating new marketing opportunities for goat meat by non-traditional consumers. Prior research has demonstrated that significant interest exists for value-added goat meat outside of traditional ethnic markets, and this project helps to realize the potential of this opportunity particularly in upscale foodservice and retail venues. Understanding the market potential for goat meat will directly impact sales, net income and sustainability for goat farms in the Northeast region, while also creating a new opportunity for farms that are interested in transitioning to raising goats.

This project assessed the processes and resultant yields from goats that were provided a custom feeding regimen and custom butchering. It also enabled the development of raw and fully-cooked value-added goat meat, and even provided for focus groups that could assess resultant products composed of experienced chefs and foodservice operators. Furthermore, this project enabled the development of an outreach program.

The results of the focus group and tastings with chefs that evaluated the raw and fully cooked sous-vide-processed products were outstanding. The goat meat’s natural moisture and juices were retained, preserving its flavor, aroma, and nutrients. The quality of the product was quite high, and chefs have already asked to purchase goat meat products that can be added to their menu.

Outreach to the public was extremely effective, and even generated worldwide publicity.
The Associated Press authored a story in January, 2007 that profiled the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and specifically highlighted the value-added goat meat work that was completed in this study. This story was published in several hundred newspapers and e-publications throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia, that included newspapers throughout the Northeast and the entire US, as well as the International Herald Tribune, Business Week, Forbes, and USA Today. In addition, in January of 2007, the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and its client Goat World were also featured on NJN (New Jersey Network) television news. This story profiled our project of developing value-added goat meat products targeted at upscale restaurants, and the reporter even tried several of the value-added goat meat products in his broadcast and indicated on television how excellent he thought they tasted.

In addition to the national and international publicity that resulted, the impact of this publicity was quite significant at the local level as well. Rutgers Cooperative Extension established a Meat Goat Production School in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and SARE project collaborator Jim Lechner was a key presenter at this event. Because of the publicity that was previously generated by the Associated Press story, well over 100 individuals attended this course. Topics included starting a meat goat operation, goat nutrition, animal health and marketing meat goats.

There are now discussions about creating a cooperative of meat goat farmers in New Jersey, and the Rutgers Food Innovation Center is supporting these efforts. Furthermore, there have now been conversations with goat meat associations in the entire Northeast region, including in PA, NY and other neighboring states about potentially being part of this effort.

As a result, goat farmers are interested in transitioning the raising and feeding regimens of their goat meat business to that of the model being developed by the collaborating farm Goat World, interest in the establishment of a cooperative has begun, and foodservice establishments have expressed an interest in purchasing product once it becomes available.

Introduction:

The overall purpose of project is to evaluate the potential for increasing the sustainability and growth of goat farms located in the Northeast, by cultivating new marketing opportunities for goat meat by non-traditional consumers. Prior research has demonstrated that significant interest exists for value-added goat meat outside of traditional ethnic markets, and this project was designed to realize the potential of this opportunity particularly in upscale foodservice and retail venues. Understanding the market potential for goat meat will directly impact sales, net income and sustainability for goat farms in the Northeast region, while also creating a new opportunity for farms that are interested in transitioning to raising goats.

Goat meat is readily available today in most cultural and religious-based butcher shops, supermarkets and restaurants. However, goat meat is not typically available today in mainstream butcher shops, nor is it readily seen in foodservice or retail establishments in any value-added form. In the traditional model, goat farms in the Northeast region have been servicing ethnic and religious-based consumers residing in the area, and sustainability of goat farms has been affected by both seasonality and price sensitivity. However, goat farmers have needed to raise their sale prices due to increased production costs, yet have found that these traditional customers are very resistant to price increases. A research study completed by a collaborator on this project (Lechner, 2002) indicated that in the face of increasing prices of domestic goat meat, current ethnic-oriented (primarily Muslim, Hispanic and Caribbean) consumers will change their consumption patterns and purchase less expensive mutton or imported goat meat. Because of the relatively unattractive economics of servicing this traditional market, and the lack of alternative, more profitable markets for goat meats, the goat meat farming industry has not realized its profitability potential.

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center previously funded market research that indicates that significant interest exists for goat meat outside of traditional ethnic markets, and this project was designed to help in the realization of this potential opportunity. An earlier statewide survey of New Jersey fine dining restaurants revealed that 75% of restaurants had either a limited knowledge or were not currently aware of goat meat. The majority of the restaurants (89%) were very interested in learning more about goat meat and its preparation, with 43% indicating that they would be interested in offering a high quality goat meat product on their menu. These earlier studies have demonstrated that potential new alternative markets exist for value-added goat meat, in foodservice and retail venues, so long as certain raw material specifications can be established and consistently met, and educational information was available regarding product usage, preparation and recipe concepts. Understanding the market and pricing potential for high quality goat meat will directly impact sales, net income and sustainability for goat farms in the Northeast region, while also creating a new opportunity for farms that are interested in transitioning to raising goats.

The majority of New Jersey butcher shops do not sell goat meat (355 evaluated by Lechner, 2002), and currently goat meat is rarely found on the menus of New Jersey fine dining restaurants (230 evaluated by Lechner, 2005). Compounding this problem is that goat meat is typically available in forms that are not recognizable to the traditional mass market customer base. Goat meat is commonly sold as primal cuts (shoulder, rack, loin and leg), while traditional mass market consumers are accustomed to purchasing processed cuts (roasts, steaks, chops, etc). Additionally, restaurant management (owners, managers and chef) and non-traditional consumers of goat meat have limited knowledge of this product and its preparation.

Project Objectives:

The first objective of this project was to calculate data associated with custom slaughtering, butchering and yield determination for meat goats, in which goats are fed a prescribed and custom diet and are raised according to specific standards.

The second objective of this project was to develop value-added products in the raw state and in the fully-cooked state, which would be of potential interest to both retail and foodservice customers.

The third objective of this project was to conduct focus groups with foodservice chefs, to determine overall interest and application for value-added products sold in the raw and/or fully-cooked state

The fourth objective of this project was to conduct outreach to three distinct populations: farmers throughout the Northeast, restaurateurs throughout the Northeast, and consumers.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Julie Elmer
  • Diane Holtaway
  • Shofiul Islam
  • Larry Katz, Ph.D.
  • Carole Lechner
  • James Lechner
  • Nichol Lechner
  • Bonnie Lynn
  • Marcia Writh

Research

Materials and methods:

The first objective and performance target of this project was to assess data associated with the custom slaughtering and butchering of the meat goats, in which goats are fed a prescribed and custom diet and are raised according to specific standards. Very little industry data exists for goat slaughtering weights and yields, so this is very beneficial information. The data collected will be used to educate producers about the marketability and value of their product. Fifty goat kids were slaughtered at a cooperating USDA-inspected facility at 16 weeks of age. Carcass parameters monitored included carcass weight, fat score and dressing percentage. The carcasses were chilled for at least 48 hours before being butchered. Ten carcasses will not be processed. The remaining 40 carcasses were processed into primal cuts (breast & foreshank, shoulder, loin, rack and leg). Primal cut yield was calculated as a percent of the total carcass weight. Twenty of the carcasses that were processed into primal cuts were further processed to assess valued-added and retail cut yield, e.g. legs processed to short cut leg roast (sirloin off), shank portion leg roast, center leg roast, center slice, boneless leg and sirloin roast and sirloin chop. All cuts were weighed and photographed, with yield being calculated as a percent of the total weight of the primal cut.

The second objective of this project was to develop value-added products in the raw state and in the fully-cooked state, which would be of potential interest to both retail and foodservice customers. Products provided as raw, vacuum packaged primal and subprimal cuts would be of greatest potential interest to the customer who is a more experienced foodservice operator, that would prefer to prepared, cook and customize value-added goat meat products themselves; Such cuts may include short cut leg roast (sirloin off), shank portion leg roast, center leg roast, center slice, boneless leg and sirloin roast and sirloin chop. Products provided as fully-cooked would represent portion-controlled convenient products that would be of greatest potential interest to the customer who is either a) a less experienced foodservice operator or one that does not have the staffing or the time to prepare value-added goat-meat products, or b) a retail customer who could offer his/her family a fully-prepared and convenient product that already contains an appropriate sauce to accompany the goat-meat protein.

Even though goats in this study were provided a particular feeding regimen, and were raised to result in optimal cooking quality, there still existed concern that the goat meat product may be tough to the consumer. As a result, the Rutgers Food Innovation Center determined that a process called “sous vide” was the appropriate methodology and technology for producing the value-added and fully-cooked goat meat products. Sous vide is a technology in which raw or partially-cooked ingredients/components are packaged in pouches or trays, and then vacuum sealed, post pasteurized, and rapidly chilled. Natural moisture and juices are retained in this process, which in turn preserves or accentuates flavor, aroma, texture, and nutrients. The process of sous vide cooking involves the following six principles:
1. Preparation of components. This typically includes: cold blending and/or heat processing of sauces; injecting and/or tumbling of meat, poultry, or seafood portions, possibly followed by grilling or searing (but not cooking) of the surface of the protein; dicing or slicing of vegetables and fruits, possibly followed by blanching; and partial cooking of starch components.
2. Assembly and Packaging of components in pouches or in trays.
3. Sealing of the pouch or trays under vacuum (or alternatively, in unique situations, under a modified atmosphere).
4. Cooking the vacuum-sealed foods at a precise temperature, and for a precise time, using either a batch or continuous process, with either steam or water as the cooking medium. Equipment used may include a steam chamber, smokehouse, retort, water-submersion tank, or cascading waterfall bath. Products are typically cooked under steam or water temperatures that range from 142°F to 170°F, depending on the product. Use of thermocouples or other forms of product data collection assure the exact degree of doneness and represent a critical control point.
5. Chilling the pouches or trays very rapidly to immediately stop the cooking process.
6. Storing the cooked chilled product under controlled refrigeration conditions, ideally at 33°F–35°F. Alternatively, the products may be flash frozen, and since the product is vacuum sealed, ice crystallization will be minimized and the cooking process used will still yield quality that is superior to a conventionally-prepared product.

The third objective of this project was to conduct focus groups with foodservice chefs, to determine overall interest and application for value-added products sold in the raw and/or fully-cooked state. This served as a vehicle to evaluate product juiciness, flavor and overall liking. Focus groups were conducted with samples produced that were a) prepared from raw, vacuum packaged primal and subprimal cuts, and b) fully cooked and portion-controlled convenient products that were processed sous vide.

The fourth objective of this project was to conduct outreach to three distinct populations: farmers throughout the Northeast, restaurateurs throughout the Northeast, and consumers.
This was to be done via a broadly released press release, as well as educational forums, and this was met with extremely favorable publicity, which will be discussed in subsequent sections of this report.

Research results and discussion:

Phase One: Butchering Yield Determinations

The first phase for this project addressed the custom slaughter/butchering portion of the project, in which goats were fed a prescribed and custom diet, raised according to specific standards, and slaughtered and butchered according to specific standards. This was conducted with the oversight of collaborator Jim Lechner of Goat World, and butchering was done on a contract basis at Bringhurst Meats Inc., Berlin, NJ. This project encompassed three methods. The status and results of each method is summarized below. The data collected will be used to educate producers about the marketability and value of their product.

1. Evaluate retail cut yield – This objective was completed in July 2006. Fifty goat kids were slaughtered at Bringhurst Meats Inc., a USDA-inspected facility. Carcass parameters monitored included carcass weight, fat score and dressing percentage. The carcasses were chilled for 72 hours before being butchered. All carcasses were processed into primal cuts (breast/foreshank, shoulder, loin, rack and leg). Primal cut yield was calculated as a percent of the total carcass weight. Carcass weights from the 50 goat kids averaged 27.6 pounds, with an average dressing percentage (carcass wt/live wt) of 55.4. Fat score was evaluated on a scale of 1-5 (5 = greatest) the degree of fat deposited in the body cavity. The carcasses yielded an average score of 3.9. The leg and shoulder yielded the highest primal cut weight and yield and the rack yielded the lowest.

2. Assess potential value-added processing techniques – This objective was also completed in July 2006. Twenty of the carcasses that were processed into primal cuts were further processed to assess valued-added processing techniques. The butcher processed the primal cuts in a variety of ways to assess individual types of retail cuts obtained from these carcasses. All individual cuts were weighted.

Each loin can be processed to yield either:
•Boneless loin roast + tenderloin strips or
•Loin chops or double loin chops + tenderloin strips

The rack can be processed to yield the following individual cuts:
•Rib roast
•Crown roast
•Rib chops

The leg can be processed to yield the following individual cuts: All roasts can be processed bone-in or bone-out

•Whole leg only
•Short cut leg roast + sirloin chops
•Center leg roast + sirloin chops + hind shank
•Short cut center leg roast + center slice + sirloin chops + hind shank
•Shank portion roast, short cut leg roast + center slice + sirloin chops

The shoulder can be processed to yield the following cuts:
•Square cut whole shoulder roast + neck slice or neck stew
•Boneless shoulder roast
•Boneless shoulder roast + neck slice or neck stew
•Arm and blade chops + neck slice or neck stew

The foreshank and breast can be processed to yield the following cuts:
•Shank
•Spare ribs
•Boneless rolled breast

During the butchering phase of the project carcasses, primal and individual cuts were photographed for use in the development of a potential goat meat handling guide.

Phase Two: Development of Value-added and fully-cooked “Sous vide” products from butchered meat portions – Concluded

Cuisine Solutions, based in Alexandria, VA, partnered with the Food Innovation Center to prepare goat meat samples using the sous vide method, resulting in high-quality prepared entrees that can be presented to the food service industry. Given the potential toughness of the cooked goat meat product, our interest was to determine if goat meat could be enhanced by this unique cooking method. Cuisine Solutions agreed to package the goat meat products with a complementary sauce that would offer great convenience and ease-of-use by either foodservice or retail customers of this product.

Goat meat portions that were butchered as part of this study were shipped overnight to arrive at the Cuisine Solutions facility in Alexandria, VA. Cuisine Solutions consulted with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center, and prepared a number of cuts with a number of sauces and froze the samples. The cut selection sent to Cuisine Solutions was the following:

1/2 rack – 12 @ 1.2 lbs each
sirloin chops – 40 – total 15 lbs
center leg slice – 20 – total 10 lbs
shoulder chops – 40 – total 20 lbs
double loin chops – 24 – total 15 lbs
spare ribs (whole side) – 10 – total 25 lbs

Cuisine Solutions prepared the following sous vide samples of goat meat, and accompanied these with the following types of product-specific sauces.

Double Loin Chop Tagine sauce
Double Loin Chop Bordelaise sauce
Double Loin Chop Apricot sauce
Sirloin Chop Tagine sauce
Sirloin Chop Bordelaise sauce
Sirloin Chop Apricot sauce
Sirloin Chop Rosemary Demi-glaze
Sirloin Chop Herb crust
Sirloin Chop Olive vinaigrette
Shoulder Chop Rosemary Demi-glaze
Shoulder Chop Herb crust
Center Leg Slice Toasted spice rub
Center Leg Slice Tagine sauce
Center Leg Slice Moroccan spice rub
Center Leg Slice Rosemary Demi sauce
Center Leg Slice Apricot with cilantro sauce

Each of these were evaluated for sensory acceptability in focus group settings that will be discussed in the next section.

Phase Three: Focus Group Testing with Chefs

Several focus group analyses were conducted, each which was also complemented with educational information about value-added goat meat products.

The first, an educational seminar, informal focus group and tasting, was conducted at an annual meeting of the South Jersey Chapter of the American Culinary Association in Atlantic City, NJ. This was presented to over 100 chefs, food service distributors, culinary students and consumers who were present. Quite a few of those present were foodservice chefs or managers of large foodservice operations affiliated with an Atlantic City casino operation. As part of the dinner buffet that evening, samples of sous vide prepared goat meat and whole roasted leg of goat provided by Goat World were featured. After dinner a voluntary questionnaire was circulated to establish liking and willingness to purchase goat meat in the future for both the sous vide prepared goat meat and whole roasted leg of goat. The results from the surveys were very positive. Over 70% of the respondents indicated that their overall liking of the sous vide prepared goat meat exceeded their expectations (very satisfied), with 60% indicated that they would likely put this product or a similar products on their menu. The whole roasted goat leg received similar overall liking scores (60% exceeded expectations, very satisfied), with 70% indicating they would put Goat World’s premium goat meat on their menu.

A formal focus group, round table discussion and tasting was conducted at Rae, a fine dining restaurant located in Philadelphia, PA (March 2007). Daniel Stern, chef/owner of Rae hosted the event, Chef Andy Schloss of Culinary Generations Inc., and Chef Blake Swihart of Food Service Solutions facilitated the event. The goal of the focus group was to gain an understanding of the chef’s perspective on menuing and marketing these premium value-added goat meat products. Participants sampled roasted racks and legs of goat meat. The chefs provided their professional insight on the marketability of goat meat products to the food service community, and brought to light some obstacles that will need to be overcome to bring our products to market.

The results of the focus group and tastings with chefs that evaluated the raw and fully cooked sous vide processed products in both of these settings was outstanding. The goat meat’s natural moisture and juices were retained, preserving its flavor, aroma, and nutrients. Benefits of this process that were identified included:
o Improved product texture and moisture. The low temperatures used in the process, coupled with the absence of evaporation, produced excellent texture results. Natural fibers softened, leaving the goat meat protein tender enough to cut with a fork in most cases.
o Improved product consistency. In conventional cooking, higher oven temperatures (350°F–450°F) are typically used when preparing and processing meats, like goat meat. As a result, conventional cooking typically results in some degree of overcooking to the exterior of the protein portion, until the interior has reached its minimum USDA required temperature requirement. Typically, in the sous vide process, the water or steam temperatures used for cooking are only between 0°F–5°F higher than the product’s final internal temperature target (versus about 200°F higher than the product’s final internal temperature target, as occurs with conventional cooking). As a result, a much more consistent product results with sous vide.
o Improved retention of natural flavors. Because product is cooked in a sealed container, flavors and volatiles are “trapped” and do not evaporate or dissipate as is typical in conventional cooking. Natural flavors are so enhanced that far less seasoning, especially salt, is required. In addition, flavors become accentuated in sous vide processing.
o Improved retention of nutritional levels. Many vitamins, essential amino acids, and minerals are sensitive to air, light, and heat. As a result, the retention of vitamins, such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), is significantly greater with the sous vide cooking process, since no evaporative processes are at work.
o Improved yields. Measurable shrinkage of sous vide products is typically 10 percent or less, compared with 20 percent or more on some conventionally-cooked products. For this reason, this technology is ideally suited for value-added protein processing (such as salmon filet, chicken breast, pork ribs, rack of lamb, and value-added goat meat) where the additional costs of labor associated with this process can be offset by gains in yield.
o Extended shelf life. Shelf life of sous-vide products is typically 21 days in the refrigerated state, but can be significantly more depending on the product’s formulation and the actual heat process used.

Phase Four: Outreach

Outreach to the public was extremely effective, and even generated worldwide publicity.
The Associated Press authored a story in January, 2007 that profiled the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and specifically highlighted the value-added goat meat work that was completed in this study. This story was published in several hundred newspapers and e-publications throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia, that included newspapers throughout the Northeast and the entire US, as well as the International Herald Tribune, Business Week, Forbes, and USA Today. As part of this story, the Associated Press visited the collaborating farm on this project, Goat World, and took photographs that appeared in stories worldwide as well. Two versions of how this article appeared in worldwide news, can be seen at the following weblinks
http://goatworldnj.com/article2.htm
http://foodinnovation.rutgers.edu/documents/Incubatorshelpdevelopfoodproducts.pdf

In addition, in January of 2007, the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and its client Goat World were also featured on NJN (New Jersey Network) television news. This story profiled our project of developing value-added goat meat products targeted at upscale restaurants. The reporter even tried several of the sous vide processed products, and indicated on television how excellent he thought they tasted.

In addition, an informal focus group with chefs and a small group of consumers occurred in January of 2007, at a meeting of the American Culinary Federation – South Jersey Chapter. The results of this informal tasting, that evaluated the fully cooked, sous vide processed products, was outstanding. The goat meat’s natural moisture and juices were retained, preserving its flavor, aroma, and nutrients. Interest has already occurred from chefs, including those at high volume locations such as upscale restaurants at New Jersey casinos, who would like to purchase the goat meat product once it’s available.

Further outreach initiatives also occurred, and have continued after the period of the grant had concluded, and a potential cooperative structure for goat meat farmers is under consideration. Because standards needed to be firmly established for state goat meat producers’ use in production, slaughter and distribution, Rutgers Cooperative Extension has developed a Meat Goat Production School in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. This has provided potential and existing meat goat producers with a science-based overview of goat production practices. Topics included starting a meat goat operation, goat nutrition, animal health and marketing meat goats. Special organizational meetings were held in February 2007 at the Hunterdon County Extension in Flemington, New Jersey and at the Gloucester County Extension office, Clayton, New Jersey. The goal of these programs was to ultimately establish a meat goat marketing cooperative which would allow producers to market their animals at reduced cost while enhancing viability.

Tremendous interest has resulted from the agricultural community as a result of these impacts and this publicity, and value-added goat meat has clearly been identified as a major and economically attractive opportunity for New Jersey agricultural producers.

Research conclusions:

The impact of this project has been far-reaching and has clearly identified an outstanding opportunity for goat farmers in New Jersey, the Northeast, and across the nation. Prior research has demonstrated that significant interest exists for value-added goat meat, and new marketing opportunities for goat meat by non-traditional consumers. This project clearly demonstrated that there is such interest in value-added products outside of traditional ethnic markets, so long as the goats follow the feeding regimen and customer butchering and processing that were inherent in this project design. Understanding the market potential for goat meat will directly impact sales, net income and sustainability for goat farms in the Northeast region, while also creating a new opportunity for farms that are interested in transitioning to raising goats.

Outreach to the public that resulted from this project was extremely effective, and even generated worldwide publicity. Tremendous interest has resulted from the agricultural community as a result of these impacts and this publicity, and value-added goat meat has clearly been identified as a major and economically attractive opportunity for New Jersey agricultural producers. The Rutgers Food Innovation Center was able to work with the collaborating company on this project, Goat World, and was successful in achieving a value-added producer grant from USDA Rural Development, which will enable the continuation of this project and hopefully result in saleable product to the consumer within the next year.

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Outreach that resulted from this project was extremely effective, and even generated worldwide publicity. The Associated Press authored a story in January, 2007 that profiled the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and specifically highlighted the value-added goat meat work that was completed in this study. This story was published in several hundred newspapers and e-publications throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia, that included newspapers throughout the Northeast and the entire US, as well as the International Herald Tribune, Business Week, Forbes, and USA Today. As part of this story, the Associated Press visited the collaborating farm on this project, Goat World, and took photographs that appeared in stories worldwide as well. Two versions of how this article appeared in worldwide news, can be seen at the following weblinks
http://goatworldnj.com/article2.htm
http://foodinnovation.rutgers.edu/documents/Incubatorshelpdevelopfoodproducts.pdf

In addition, in January of 2007, the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and its client Goat World were also featured on NJN (New Jersey Network) television news. This story profiled our project of developing value-added goat meat products targeted at upscale restaurants. The reporter even tried several of the sous vide processed products, and indicated on television how excellent he thought they tasted.

In addition, an informal focus group with chefs and a small group of consumers occurred in January of 2007, at a meeting of the American Culinary Federation – South Jersey Chapter. The results of this informal tasting, that evaluated the fully cooked, sous vide processed products, was outstanding. The goat meat’s natural moisture and juices were retained, preserving its flavor, aroma, and nutrients. Interest has already occurred from chefs, including those at high volume locations such as upscale restaurants at New Jersey casinos, who would like to purchase the goat meat product once it’s available.

Further outreach initiatives also occurred, and have continued after the period of the grant had concluded, and a potential cooperative structure for goat meat farmers is under consideration. Because standards needed to be firmly established for state goat meat producers’ use in production, slaughter and distribution, Rutgers Cooperative Extension has developed a Meat Goat Production School in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. This has provided potential and existing meat goat producers with a science-based overview of goat production practices. Topics included starting a meat goat operation, goat nutrition, animal health and marketing meat goats. Special organizational meetings were held in February 2007 at the Hunterdon County Extension in Flemington, New Jersey and at the Gloucester County Extension office, Clayton, New Jersey. The goal of these programs was to ultimately establish a meat goat marketing cooperative which would allow producers to market their animals at reduced cost while enhancing viability.

Tremendous interest has resulted from the agricultural community as a result of these impacts and this publicity, and value-added goat meat has clearly been identified as a major and economically attractive opportunity for New Jersey agricultural producers.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

An economic feasibility analysis was not a component of this study, and was not conducted; however some of the critical pieces of information were determined in this study that can enable this to more readily occur in a subsequent project. Such an analysis is ultimately needed in order to analyze the cost of raising, processing and marketing a premium value-added goat meat product line, compared to traditional methods and market structure.

One of the most difficult parts of any agricultural operation is projecting accurate enterprise profitability. Production costs can vary considerably, with variations due to the unique character of each operation and the uncertainty of factors beyond the control of the farm operator. Most of the costs associated with producing a commercial kid are incurred in categories such as land, labor, feed and vet/health. Land and labor tend to be fixed costs while feed (including hay and cultivated forage production) and vet/health costs are more variable. While, cost for value-added product includes processing, packaging delivery and marketing. In developing the cost of production budgets for such a project, criteria such as consistency in approach, completeness of input information and verification of underlying assumptions, will be needed to ensure the highest level of accuracy possible. The cost of doing business typically increases each year and a good determination of a sales price should be based on a current understanding for producing and marketing the final product. A database and analytical framework that allows a “whole farm” assessment of production practices for traditional and value-added production methods is needed. It will serve to demonstrate for growers the production practices, inputs, and marketing strategies that can reduce costs, increase net farm incomes, and expand the market potential for their goat meat.

Farmer Adoption

Given current market conditions, producers in the Northeast find it difficult to be price competitive and run a sustainable operation. The majority of the goats slaughtered in the United States are raised in the Southwest. These goats are typically range-raised on large tracts of land and require little in terms of additional production inputs. Meat that is imported originates from goats raised in a similar manner. These production methods have low associated costs and the large, inexpensive supply of imported goat meat tends to place a ceiling on the price that traditional ethnic consumers are willing to pay for goat meat in the Northeast. Producers in the Northeast are faced with higher production costs and production constraints that are not experienced by farmers in the Southwest. Agricultural operations in the Northeast are small in scale compared to other parts of the country. This can be a major stumbling block for sustainability, since small scale production is usually associated with increased unit costs. In the Northeast, land values, taxes, and labor are higher. As a result farmers are finding it more profitable to sell their land for development, than to actually farm it. It is necessary to maintain the existing farms and stimulate their production in order to preserve and sustain agricultural practices in the Northeast.

This project assessed the processes and resultant yields from goats that were provided a custom feeding regimen and custom butchering. It also enabled the development of raw and fully-cooked value-added goat meat, and even provided for focus groups that could assess resultant products composed of experienced chefs and foodservice operators. Furthermore, this project enabled the development of an outreach program. The results of the focus group and tastings with chefs that evaluated the raw and fully cooked sous-vide-processed products were outstanding. The goat meat’s natural moisture and juices were retained, preserving its flavor, aroma, and nutrients. The quality of the product was quite high, and chefs have already asked to purchase goat meat products that can be added to their menu.

Tremendous interest has resulted from the agricultural community as a result of these impacts and this publicity, and value-added goat meat has clearly been identified as a major and economically attractive opportunity for New Jersey agricultural producers. There are now discussions about creating a cooperative of meat goat farmers in New Jersey, and the Rutgers Food Innovation Center is supporting these efforts. Furthermore, there have now been conversations with goat meat associations in the entire Northeast region, including in PA, NY and other neighboring states about potentially being part of this effort.

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center was able to work with the collaborating company on this project, Goat World, and was successful in achieving a value-added producer grant from USDA Rural Development, which will enable the continuation of this project and hopefully result in saleable product to the consumer within the next year.

As a result, goat farmers are interested in transitioning the raising and feeding regimens of their goat meat business to that of the model being developed by the collaborating farm Goat World, interest in the establishment of a cooperative has begun, and foodservice establishments have expressed an interest in purchasing product once it becomes available.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Areas needing additional study

Areas needing additional study include the following:

Economic Feasibility Analysis:
An economic feasibility analysis is needed in order to analyze the cost of raising, processing and marketing a premium value-added goat meat product line, compared to traditional methods and market structure.

Marketing Plan Development:
A marketing plan is now required, that will help develop an image, brand and marketing strategies for selling a new, premium goat meat product line to high-end foodservice operations and consumers. The goal of the marketing strategy will be to effectively learn how to position this product as unique in the marketplace while also driving trial and repeat purchase.

Value-Added Product Development:
The product development phase of the project will enable Goat World to create value-added prototypes for evaluation. These will be used during the market research portions of this grant, and used to assess packaging and branding specifications.

Business Organization Modeling and Determination:
Business organization modeling will be undertaken to understand and assess the relative merits of different potential business models, strategies and tactics to be incorporated in to a Business Plan. With the advice and assistance of consultants and industry experts and legal advisors, Goat World needs to evaluate the opportunity and potential benefits and challenges of forming an LLC, establishing a cooperative, licensing, contract growing, and franchise models in working with other New Jersey based farmers to increase supplies. The analysis will assist Goat World to understand the opportunity, costs and benefits, and the human, technical, and financial capital requirements to grow a profitable and sustainable value-added agriculture business.

Business Plan Development:
A sound business plan will then be needed, to tie all of the elements of planning activities together in order to define the new strategy and financial picture for the company. These activities will outline the plan to lead to the development of value-added raw and cooked premium goat meat product lines.

Educational and Marketing Materials:
Educating restaurant management (owners, managers and chefs) about goat meat and its preparation is critical to maximizing the potential of this marketing outlet. A formalized and widely-accepted preparation and recipe guide for goat meat that can be utilized by the restaurant industry does not currently exist. Goat meat can be more difficult to prepare than beef and lamb, since it contains less intramuscular fat. Culinary students are typically not exposed to goat meat during their training. If not prepared correctly the meat can easily dry out and become tough and unpalatable. The American Lamb Board has developed a chef education program to educate chefs and the student community on the features and benefits of American Lamb. One of the slogans is “Educating the Chef of Tomorrow”. This project is very successful and has opened up new marketing opportunities for American Lamb. This same model is required for developing the market potential for goat meat.

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.