Australian goat meat destined for big Chinese barbecue

Terry Sim, May 3, 2023

The rangeland goat carcases before wrapping for shipment. Image – Eddie Zhi.

LOW value but uniquely tasting Australian rangeland goat meat will be trialled in one of China’s newest tourism hotspots Zibo during a May Day holiday music and barbecue festival.

An air shipment of 1100 rangeland goat carcases will be flown to the industrial city in Shandong Province this weekend, according to exporter Eddie Zhi.

Mr Zhi said it was the first air shipment of Australian rangeland goat meat into the area for the city’s first country music barbecue festival. The shipment was sourced by Nutrien Cobar for exporting company Austagri Development Pty Ltd and processed in Victoria.

Mr Zhi said Zibo city has only four million residents, but it currently has about five million visitors for the festival.

“The importance of this project is it is heralding the start of Chinese interest in higher quality goat products as these goats are an average 10 kilograms,” Mr Zhi said.

With the recent drop in Australian goat meat prices, rangeland goats in the weight range of the shipment are worth as little as $1/kg live or $2.30/kg cwt (MLA), with some export works regarding carcases under 10kg as having no commercial value.

Meat & Livestock Australia reported recently that the drop in goat meat prices from a peak of more than $9/kg to current levels has opened the way for volume sales to former markets such as Japan, the Caribbean, Canada, Taiwan, mainland China, and Vietnam.

China predicted to be a market for top-end goat meat

Eddie Zhi – venturing into goat meat marketing.

Mr Zhi is confident China will be an alternative market to the United States for goat meat, as it is the most universally consumed meat in the country.

“Chinese has a way of cooking called “ Shouzhuarou” meaning hand-held meat which is only water boiled meat that requires no spices, only salt and a bit of ginger,” he said.

“This is the ultimate test of the quality of meat: the tenderness, the texture, the sweetness and the subtleness the purity and the flavour — light weight kids fit right into this category.

“Our biggest problem we have a stereotype impression about China only taking cheap low end products,” Mr Zhi said.

“China without doubt will be our biggest market for the top-end products such Wagyu and light weight lamb and goats.”

Mr Zhi said taste testing of goats from arid areas had shown their meat’s flavour was superior to that of goats from lush pasture. He said slow growth also gives a better taste in meat.

“Normally lush green grass produces worse taste meats because the animal grow too fast, hence no time to have a full rounded taste.

“A bit like a dry-year grape will give you a better wine than a wet-year grape.”

The Chinese also appreciate products naturally grown without artificial feeding, he said.

“Rangeland goats mostly came from the arid country where low moisture in the air enables the better perspiration of goats resulting in the fats came out the body onto the skin hence no bad smell inside the meats,” he said.

Mr Zhi was the original organizer of a humanitarian donation of mutton in 2020 celebrating the reopening of Wuhan City after the COVID-19 outbreak lockdown.

He said he organized the goat shipment to help improve relations between Australia and China, and to lift returns for Australian goat farmers.

Former Goat Industry Council of Australia president and New South Wales goat farmer Rick Gates welcomed any initiative to open up a new market for goat meat, especially with prices at current levels. He said the best price he has heard for 8-28kg carcases domestically was about $3.50/kg cwt, but he said producers supplying light-weight “tight window” specification orders would need to be paid more. Mr Gates said for goat producers to compete with lamb production, prices needed to lift to $5-$6/kg cwt “so we don’t get a massive exodus of goat people.”


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  1. Don Bass, May 5, 2023

    I have watched what has happened with goats over the last three years and it beggars belief. The massive beat up about it being an endless and bottomless overseas market to the point where lots of new abattoirs have sprung up for the massive boom to suddenly the product becomes basically worthless. It seems all the spruiking was baseless. Is it up to individuals to go on selling trips overseas themselves and bypassing the bullshit?

    • Eddie Zhi, May 11, 2023

      The boom and bust of goats is the same as any fad such as F1 Wagyu.

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