An Investigation of the General and Niche Market Goat Meat Demand
The eleven state region from Texas to North Carolina (TX, LA, OK, AR, MS, AL, FL, GA, TN, SC, NC) is the United States’ goat production region. The region accounted for 78 percent of all goat production and about 81 percent of meat goat production in 1997. Meat goats, in the United States, 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 type goats in the region between 1992 and 1997 increased by more than 59 percent. All states in the region had substantial gains in meat type goat production and this production, with few exceptions, took place on small farms. Net imports of goat meat also increased dramatically during this 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 implications 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 the markets used by goat producers is not widely available nor is the ralative inportance 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.
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, and 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.
The Producer Survey
The timetable for the development and execution of the producer survey instrument (objective 3) was changed. The change was made primarily as a result of an effort to expand the geographical area coverage of the survey by cooperating with another SARE project group (LS02-143 Novel Methods for Sustainable Control of Gastrointestinal Nematodes in Small Ruminants. This arrangement has not been fruitful because this component of that project is minor and has not been a major focus, thus far. Some data has been shared with the principals of LS02-143 and we anticipate data from that project will be available once it is collected. As previously noted, the experiences of some participants with data collection by mail suggested that attaining the desired return rate would be difficult with a mail survey. As a consequence, a decision was made to use a combination of mail surveys and face-to-face interviews to increase the number of responses and to enhance the diversity of farmer participation. Because of this procedure, data collections are at various stages of completion. Considerable farmer surveys have been collected in Georgia, Alabama, and Texas and less in the other states. However, data collection from farmers will be concentrated in the spring and should be completed in all states by the fall.
Importance of Marketing Options
Several of the focuses of the producer survey instrument dealt with farmer marketing activities and factors that impact the economic production of goats. Regarding marketing, several of the issues dealt with where farmers are selling their animals and the classification of animals that were most profitable and most frequently marketed. Preliminary analyses of data collected from farmers have yielded some interesting results and lead to a presentation at a professional meeting and one forthcoming publication. When responding to the question regarding the importance of marketing outlets for their animals, producers ranked goat auctions as the major way their animals are sold and these facilities were significantly more important than other methods of marketing. Traditional livestock facilities were listed as the second most important outlet used to market goats but was significantly less important than goat auctions. However, slightly less than 50 percent of producers listed this method as one of the ways used to sell their animals. Selling directly to consumers and selling breeding livestock were listed as the third and four most important methods of marketing animals, respectively. The preference for and importance of goat auctions is likely the result of prices and less competition from other types of animals. However, sales to consumers and breeding livestock may be impacted in the future by concerns for food safety and farmer liability and the saturation of the breeding animal market. The Cooperative was not identified as one of the important outlets by farmers but may hold future potential. A high percentage of producers indicated they “didn’t know” if they would be willing to use a cooperative to market their animals rather than indicating that they would not use this method of marketing. The farmers listed internal parasites as the most important barrier to economic expansion of their goat enterprises. These results are from the Georgia sample data only. Thus, the results may not be representative of the study area and may present problems if generalized to the region level. The analyses were conducted using non-parametric techniques.
Classification of Goat Most Frequently Marketed
One of the underlying focuses of the effort is to assess the alignment of goat production with demand or more narrowly the production of goat with those characteristics desired by consumers. Preliminary analysis of the data (Georgia) suggests that kids are the classification of the goat that is most frequently marketed by farmers. The goat classification that is least often marketed is the wether. In addition, this sample of farmers listed the kid classification as the most profitable. Primary sales data collected in some of Georgia’s most active goat markets tend to partially confirm the findings from the farmers’ survey data. The sales data from these markets show that the kid classification is the most frequently sold goat through these markets and the wether has the lowest frequency of sales. Initial speculation regarding the low frequency of sale of wethers by farmers and those observed moving through the markets may be related to two factors. First, a large percentage of goats are sold as kids and the necessity to castrate maybe removed. Second, this type of animal is not in demand or is a speciality classification and when it is sold, it is primarily marketed directly to consumers or through other means not captured in sales data. An analysis was conducted to get a measure of the mean price and the variability of price for the various classification of goats. The standard deviation was used for the purpose of measuring variability. Understandably the mean price for the kid classification was lower than some of the other classifications and the standard deviation was relatively low as well. The coefficient of variation was used as a measure of how large the standard deviation is in relationship to the mean price. This calculation revealed that the coefficient of variation was relatively higher for the kid classification than some other classifications, suggesting that the price and income for kids may be relatively more variable than for some of the other classifications of goats. A station publication and manuscript for presentation at a regional professional meeting are in progress on these findings. More and greater in depth analysis of the farmer survey data will be conducted during the fall after collections are complete for all states.
Production Methods and Sensory Attributes
An additional underlying objective of the work is to identify factors impacting demand and their relative importance on goat meat demand. This includes animal production methods on meat product attributes and the consumer decision to purchase. Most farmers indicated that they were producing their goats for the meat market using what we will term an extensive production method system. Essentially, with little supplemental grazing or other feed stuffs. Therefore, an experiment was conducted to assess the impact of production methods on selected attributes of goat meat and consumer preferences. To accomplish this, a consumer taste test and survey was conducted. The carcasses used in the study were from six (6) month old Boer and Spanish crosses. The animals were produced using extensive and semi-intensive production management systems. The animals, all wethers, weights ranged from 38 – 52 pounds (range = 14 lbs.) under the semi-intensive method and 40 – 53 (range = 13 lbs.) for the extensive management system. Barbeques were prepared using identical methods and the intercept method was used at an annual Agricultural Exposition held in Moultrie Georgia. Data was collected from 93 respondents on one afternoon between the hours of 12 noon and 3:00 p.m. Slightly more than 59 percent of the respondents had consumed goat meat with nonwhite respondent more likely to have consumption history with goat meat than whites. Respondent were given blind samples of the barbeque from semi-intensive and extensive produced animals and asked to rate the tenderness, taste, and aroma of the samples. Consumers’ likert scale scores consistently rated the three sensory attributes higher for the semi-intensive produced animals than for the extensive sample. Respondents were also asked to rate the importance of goat meat attributes on their decision to purchase. Without regard to consumption history, respondents ranked the five most important attributes, in descending order, as freshness, price, government labeling, freedom of chemicals, and color of the meat.
Regional Consumer Survey
The Southern Region Goat Consumption Survey collection of consumer data is nearing completion. The instrument was developed in consultation with cooperators and pretested. The only major change made after pretesting dealt with questions that would permit assessing transmission of consumption habits from parent to children. The change was made because of concern that parents would be reluctant to provide the type of information needed about their children over the telephone. The survey instrument received approval by the IRB/Human Subjects Committees at both the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University. The random digit dial survey is being conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia and was initiated in March. The sample from the 11 states will include approximately 3750 respondents rather than the 4000 originally planned. The reduction in sample size was necessary because of an increase in per instrument costs and the time required to complete each survey. Spanish-speaking interviewers are being employed to collect the data from Hispanic respondents for the Hispanic sub-sample in the states of Georgia and Florida.
Graduate Student Placement
Second year master degree level graduate students have been identified in Georgia, Florida, Texas and North Carolina to work on the project. The students will be provided a one year assistantship from the project and all have elected, in consultation with their advisor, to develop a thesis from the regional goat consumption data base. Each student will develop a thesis using data from their respective state. Regional analysis of this data set will be primarily the responsibility of Georgia and Florida cooperators and the research associate. The students in Georgia and Florida are currently conducting literature reviews and other preliminary efforts and will begin data analysis during the upcoming summer. Students in Texas and North Carolina are scheduled to begin work during the fall.
Because all students will develop theses from the consumer survey data set, the producer’s data set will be analyzed by the cooperators. Each cooperator will take leadership for analyses of the producer’s data set from their respective state and Georgia cooperators will take the lead responsibility for analysis of the regional producers data set. Providing assistance on the analysis of the regional data sets will be a major responsibility of the research associate. The search process for a candidate for the research associate position is in progress and one will be hired when an acceptable candidate is identified.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
It is anticipated that the results of this project will assist goat farmers, consumers, livestock marketing firms and facilities, and local merchants of feed and other production inputs by assisting in identifying the level and type of goat products desired by consumers. This alignment of production with identification and fulfilment of consumer demand will provide for more efficient production, greater and more efficient use and expansion of livestock marketing facilities, greater use of local labor pools and merchants for production inputs, and better use of environmentally fragile agricultural lands.
Results from preliminary analysis of producer survey data suggest that goat markets are most frequently used to market animals.
Results from the preliminary analysis of producer survey data and primary data from some of the most active goat markets suggest that the kid classification of goat is the most frequently marketed. The wether classification is the least frequently marketed type of animal.
Using the coefficient of variation as a measure of how large the standard deviation is in relationship to mean price, preliminary analysis of primary sales data suggest that the income from kids may be relatively more variable than for some other classifications of goats.
Preliminary analysis of data from a consumer taste test and survey of a goat product from carcasses from different production management systems (semi-intensive and extensive) is potentially insightful. The preliminary results suggest that consumers consistently rate the sensory attributes of products from animals produced using a semi-intensive method higher. Further analysis is needed to determine if this preference is related to consumer willingness to pay.
Professor of Agricultural Economics
Southern University & A&M College
Department of Agricultural Economics
Division of Agricultural Sciences
Baton Rogue, LA 70813
Office Phone: 2257715124
Assoc. Professor & Extension Small Ruminant Spec.
Fort Valley State University
College of Ag., Home Economics & Allied Programs
P.O. Box 4061, 1005 State University Drive
Fort Valley, GA 31030
Office Phone: 4788256955
Research Director & Professor of Agricultural Econ
Prairie View A&M University
College of Agriculture & Human Sciences
P.O. Box 2479
Prairie View, TX 77446
Office Phone: 9368572030
Professor of Agricultural Economics
University of Georgia
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics
312 Conner Hall
Athens, GA 30602-7509
Office Phone: 7065420852
3304 Duhart Church Road
Stapleton, GA 30823-7112
Professor of Agricultural Economics
North Carolina A&T State University
Dept. of Agribusiness, Applied Econ. & Agriscience
C.H. Moore, A-26
Greensboro, NC 27411
Office Phone: 3363347054
Apalachee River Livestock Farm
1131Treadwell Bridge Road
Statham, GA 30666
Office Phone: 7707257926