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Local Consumer Demands and Domestic Supply of Sheep and Goat Meat
Understanding consumer demand critical for the development of the sheep meat and goat meat industries. Past studies have, at a national level, found that diverse backgrounds increased demand for leaner cuts, and price being important to consumers. The links between retail outlets and consumers are critical, with the findings also highlighting that the shopper is also the cook (Star, 2021). However most previous studies of consumer demand have asked consumers directly about their preferences or analysed broad market data. Information about demands has rarely been sourced from the supply chain, such as from butchers and direct retailers.
This study interviewed 25 meat retailers from Western Qld and the Darling Downs along with Brisbane, Central and North Queensland to identify trends in demands for sheep and goat meat. The study was conducted through a combination of face-to-face and over the phone interviews. This allowed a series of open-ended questions to be asked relating to attitudes, consumer demands and market segments. The interviews sought to gain perspectives from the butchers and retailers regarding their experiences with customers. A thematic review approach was taken to analyse the findings with key themes identified as opportunities for diverse markets, attention to market segments particularly in tourist areas, and price impacting on the supply chains.
Current rates of consumption for sheep and goat meat, in conjunction with the tourism market, which has been reported by tourism operators to have grown since COVID-19, present opportunities to increase the volume of sheep and goat meat sold, whilst also maintaining the local market which is more stable and less seasonal. Fat content was less of a concern found by butchers, however, capacity to cook some of the different cuts of meats was identified to be a key issue, with older people more knowledgeable about cooking cheaper cuts of meat than younger people.
Price was identified as a key aspect impacting supply chain factors for butchers, with current high price signals for all meats. There was less interest in marketing lamb cuts because of the low margins. Many butchers noted that they had adapted their supply chain (owned their own land or bought boxed lamb) to mitigate prices that were too high for their customers, but many noted that this was not viable in the longer term for their business.
The results identified markets that are nuanced based on their location, the local population and the tourism demand. The impact of proximity to tourist attractions and access to niche markets allowed some butchers to capitalise on these markets more than butchers in other locations. The local markets based on demographics varied between the two key locations of Outback Qld and Darling Downs – Maranoa, which also underpins slight differences in demands. Key considerations for industry are to better identify the opportunities for increased consumption demands, and to identify how supply can increase, and supply chains adjust, to meet those increased demands.
Star, M., Rolfe, J., Lyons, B. 2021. Local Consumer Demands and Domestic Supply of Sheep and Goat Meat. Report provided to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries