Goatmeat demand holding despite COVID-19 concerns

Goatmeat demand holding despite COVID-19 concerns

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There are plenty of positive signs for the goatmeat sector despite ongoing market instability caused by the coronavirus.

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Supply chain disruptions in key export markets due to COVID-19 are an ongoing concern for Australian goatmeat processors but signs of recovery in areas such as Asia are providing plenty of hope for another year of strong demand.

Australia exported approximately 95 per cent of its goatmeat production in 2019 with the United States taking the lions share (70 per cent) and Taiwan, South Korea, China, Trinidate and Cananda also representing important markets.

Western Queensland-based goatmeat processor, Campbell McPhee, Western Meat Exporters, said the fallout from coronavirus shutdowns initially impacted demand from China and neighbouring countries but he said there had been positive signals from those markets in recent weeks.

"Those Asian markets seem to be coming back to some sort of normality but the American buyers are all very cautious," he said.

"The stimulus package in America is a bit of an unknown so we look forward to seeing what their ability is to take supply.

"Everything will depend on how much domestic consumption there is and their ability to access meat if the country is completely locked down."

Australia remains the largest exporter of goatmeat, despite accounting for less than one per cent of global production.

The value of Australian goatmeat exports totalled A$235.7 million in 2019, up 29pc on the year prior, supported by increased prices.

Mr McPhee said goat prices continued to remain remain strong - with producers being paid close to the records seen in 2019 - up to 940c/kg cwt.

According to Meat & Livestock's latest goatmeat global snapshot, goat prices peaked at 940/kg cwt in late June and averaged 790/kg for entire 12 months of 2019.

These high prices continue to impact live exports to the price-sensitive Malaysian market, Australia's largest destination for live goats.

MLA reported that strong domestic goat prices had resulted in a marked decrease in total live goat exports in the past few years, with exports down to 16,000 head in 2019 - a decrease of 82pc from 2015 levels (87,700 head).

Mr McPhee said the supply of goats into his Charleville plant remained strong, with some families making the most of having children home from boarding school to muster.

They are currently killing around 2700 goats and up to 1000 sheep a day, working six days a week to meet the strong demand.

"There are a few extra hands on deck with school kids home early and weather has been good for mustering after a wetter spell at the beginning of the year," he said.

Mr McPhee said scattered rain through southern Queensland and north west NSW in recent weeks wasn't expected to severely impact supply.

"There is still plenty of warmth about so the country will dry out and they'll get back into mustering pretty quickly," he said.

Campbell McPhee, Western Meat Exporters, Charleville, western Queensland.

Campbell McPhee, Western Meat Exporters, Charleville, western Queensland.

Not quite business as usual 

It wasn't quite business as usual in the plant, with social distancing measures having a significant impact on the operation, according to Mr McPhee.

"Our interaction with the workforce and how we go about our daily business as certainly changed," he said.

"We have people working at home, we've put extra staff on so that we can manage our rotation better, different lunchrooms, extra cleaners and of course, we are all trying to keep our distance from each other.

"We are doing our best to meet the regulations as far as the social distancing measures go and I'm sure we can continue to do that."

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