No kidding: let’s give goat a chance

16th March 2021 | Eativity editors

Eaten Aussie goat recently? Probably not – 90 percent of our goat meat is exported. But one aspiring meat scientist wants to change that, with plans to get more goat on our plates.

Dr Jarrod Lees from the University of New England is the winner of the Meat & Livestock Australia Award in the 2021 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. He plans to use his $22,000 award to investigate whether something that is currently treated as single product – “goat meat” – can be differentiated in the market as effectively as beef and lamb cuts have been.

Dr Jarrod Lees will be recruiting 180 people to sample grilled, roasted and slow-cooked goat.

“Goat meat is healthy, delicious and relatively abundant,” Dr Lees says. “There is scope to grow a domestic market for a premium goat product, but first we need to establish whether untrained consumers can identify correctly cooked premium cuts, versus the undistinguished chunks of meat that goat is often cooked as.”

Dr Lees will be testing various cuts of goat using different cooking methods on a consumer taste-testing panel, using Meat Standards Australia consumer taste-testing methods, which have been perfected over decades to elevate the eating experience of beef and lamb.

“Meat & Livestock Australia found that ‘cultural familiarity’ is a major barrier to the domestic consumption of goat meat,” Dr Lees says.

Currently, you’ll only find goat meat in specialist butchers, like world-renowned Victor Churchill.

He plans to cook goat meat in ways that are familiar to most Australians – grilling, roasting and slow cooking – and then measure what everyday consumers think of the eating experience. The cuts he’ll use will also be more familiar, such as leg roast or loin steak.

“This will give us an idea of how consumers respond to goat meat presented in a similar fashion to lamb, which is culturally very familiar,” Dr Lees says. “It will be a base measurement of eating quality that can be improved with herbs and spices.”

Dr Lees’s taste-testing will be conducted using Boer goats from the award-winning Gourmet Goat Lady in Collie, NSW. Most of Australia’s goat meat production comes from wild feral goats, Dr Lees says, but if there’s potential for premium prices for a premium product, goat producers can justify the investment in a breeding program to lift meat quality.

The Boer goat is a specialist meat breed. The Gourmet Goat Lady has won multiple awards for her produce.

Considerable work will remain to be done to get quality goat meat cuts in your regular supermarket meat aisle, but there will at least be a foundation on which to build.

For ultimate success, the Australian goat sector will need to do as our beef and lamb industries have done over several decades, and establish principles to ensure a consistently reliable (and tasty) eating experience for meat-loving consumers.

But first, Dr Lees has to get the message out there that meat from goats is more than just “goat meat”. His own experience as an eater gives him confidence that it isn’t the case and that there are some truly outstanding goat-based culinary experiences to be had – but for now, that’s a question for his taste-testers to determine.