The humble goat was probably the first animal to be domesticated, which is not surprising as it has so much to offer. Besides producing milk, goats provide fleece for spinning, skins for leather and nutritious red meat for human consumption.
Goat meat has been part of the diet of people around the world for thousands of years and, as such, goat meat is one of the few meats that is not discriminated against by religious taboos.
Goats are easy to raise and prolific breeders that can thrive on cultivated farms or in inhospitable environments. The meat they produce is slightly sweeter, but similar in taste to lamb. It is also lean and healthy due to its lower fat and cholesterol content (lower than sheep meat or chicken), and is lower in calories than port, beef or lamb. Goat meat is higher than beef in iron and protein levels and, because of its molecular structure, goat meat is easier to digest. It is an ideal choice for health conscious meat lovers. For these reasons, goat meat is the most eaten red-meat in the world, however, the western world has been slow to develop a liking for the flavour.
The places most associated with goat cuisine are Africa, the Middle East, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Mexico, Taiwan and the Caribbean. On the Indian subcontinent ‘mutton’ is the word used to describe both goat and sheep meat.
Kid goats are marketed as Capretto or Cabrito as described in Part 1. Two tooth goats up to 16 months in age are larger than Capretto and are marketed as ‘chevon’ (from the French word chèvre meaning goat. The meat is slightly redder than kid goat but is still tender, juicy and has a good flavour. Goats over 16 months are classed as ‘goat’ or ‘mutton’.
Adult goat’s meat has a firm texture and the flavour is described as mild to strong depending on the sex and age of the animal. Weight can be used to assess the age of the goat although the various breeds vary considerably in size and weight.
While goat meat is one of the few meats that is free from most religious taboos, it is demanded on special occasions for ceremonial purposes.
In Africa, the Chaga people of Tanzania kill, roast and eat a goat in a ceremonial tradition which has been practiced for hundreds of years. In some countries, a ceremonial goat is offered to guests at wedding ceremonies (in place of the western world’s wedding cake).
For Muslims, the end of the sacred month of Ramadan is celebrated with the slaughter of a goat. Every man will kill a goat and provide meat for his family. By tradition, he will also give some meat to his relatives and to the poor.
Goat meat is also a major delicacy in Nepal, where male goats are sacrificed during Dashain – a Hindu ceremony. At this event, the largest annual celebration in the country, buffalo and goats are sacrificed to appease the gods. These animal sacrifices commemorate the mythical bloody battles between the ‘divine’ and ‘demonic’ powers. Again the sacrificial meat feeds the family.
Meet the World’s largest meat exporter
Western Meat Exporters is the largest goat meat processor and exporter in the world. The company has been operating since August 1997 and is situated at Charleville in south west Queensland. One hundred percent of its meat products are exported and distributed worldwide to over 30 countries including the USA, European Union, Canada, Asia and the Middle East and India. The United States and Taiwan are the biggest customers. Australian goat meat arrives into the USA frozen and usually as whole carcases.
This specialist goat-only facility produces Halal meat to satisfy all its export markets and supplies its products according to the country’s demands. Malaysia, Singapore, Caribbean and the USA require skin-off carcasses while Taiwan and Korea require skin-on carcases. Some markets want ‘toasted’ carcases.
This plant processes 50% of all Australia's goats for export. The facility currently kills up to 16,000 goats per week. In 2014 the company handled about 660,000 goats. They are aiming to process 700,000 goats in 2015.
Apart from supplying the exporter’s needs, harvesting the herds of wild goats in the Australian outback bolsters the income of farmers when cattle prices are low.
A distinct advantage of Australian export goats is that they are derived from vast clean, low-risk grazing areas. Therefore, they have had limited exposure to chemicals. Australia and New Zealand have a strict system (NLIS) for the identification and tracing of animals for biosecurity, food safety, product integrity and market access.
Goat Meat Products
Western Meat Exporters provides bone-in carcases with either skin-on or skin-off, or skin-on brown (a tan-coloured carcase which results from the hair being burnt and scraped off – also marketed as burnt goat or toasted).
The bone-in products are either whole carcasses or cut ‘6-way’, or as boneless primal cuts packed into lined cartons. All products are described and delivered in accordance with Ausmeat specifications.
While in earlier times in the Western World, rotten fruit or animal offal was thrown at condemned criminals either in the stocks or destined for the gallows that is not the case today. When a goat is slaughtered nothing is wasted.
A wide range of offal types are packaged for export including kidneys, hearts, testes, penises, stomach linings and intestines, plus whole heads. In some countries the blood, liver and lungs are used in certain dishes, while hoofs are made into soup.
In addition, the company supplies quality goat skins salted and pallet sized ready for shipment. These are graded and exported for processing and tanning. Sizes are often large and greater than 7 ft². Medium to small skins measure 3-7ft². Colours of the feral goats are varied and attractive.
In conclusion, goat meat is the most widely consumed red meat in the world. More than 70% of the world’s population eats goat meat.
Demand in Western countries is slowly increasing as diversity in population increases and individuals are tempted by the exotic cuisines brought to them in TV cooking demonstrations.
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Information on this site relevant to Western Meat Exporters is from the website: http://www.westernexporters.com.au