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Australia: Goatmeat put to the taste test

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Consumer taste-testing of farmed Australian goatmeat has demonstrated a high acceptance of the protein among consumers, flagging the potential to grow a domestic market for premium goatmeat. The consumer sensory sessions were undertaken as part of a research project led by Dr Jarrod Lees at the University of New England (UNE).

Posted on Sep 09 ,04:12

Australia: Goatmeat put to the taste test

Dr Lees won the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Award in the 2021 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and used his award to investigate whether farmed, high quality goatmeat can be differentiated by consumers as effectively as beef and lamb.

“The Australian goatmeat industry slaughtered 1.54 million goats in 2019, valued at over $182 million, totalling 22,381 tonnes carcase weight with more than 95% exported,” Dr Lees said.

“Domestic consumption of goatmeat is very low and MLA research has shown the top three barriers to purchasing goatmeat for Australian consumers are familiarity, availability and not knowing how to cook it. However, with record prices offered for slaughter and breeding goats, there is an opportunity to develop and market high quality goatmeat to domestic consumers.

“To address the issue of familiarity and cooking style, the study presented goatmeat in a way that is familiar to an Australian consumer,” Dr Lees said.

Dr Lees undertook the research at UNE utilising 12 Boer goat wether carcases weighing 23–24kg, procured from a commercial partner and processed at a domestic abattoir in Western NSW.

Carcases were boned out at UNE Meat Science into eating quality samples, using cuts presented similarly to lamb including the loin, rack, rump, shoulder, leg, shank and knuckle.

Consumer sensory sessions were conducted in Armidale and Port Macquarie with a total of 180 random consumers split into three groups to evaluate the eating quality and acceptability of goatmeat served as grilled, roasted and slow cooked samples.

The Meat Standards Australia (MSA) consumer taste-testing methods that have been used for close to 25 years to elevate the eating experience of beef and lamb were used, along with the same MSA measurements utilised in processing.

Each cook method was modelled against known drivers of eating quality including cut, carcase weight, shear force (objective measure for tenderness), and intramuscular fat (IMF%) percentage.

Sensory samples were scored for tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall liking.

Dr Lees said results not only demonstrated consumer acceptance of goatmeat but also their willingness to pay in a domestic setting.

“The consumers that participated in the sensory testing sessions scored goatmeat on average over 50 points, which is considered good everyday product. Consumers scored some samples as better than every day and premium,” Dr Lees said.

“This provides a positive outlook on goatmeat and informs the Australian goatmeat industry that there are domestic consumers who are willing to try goatmeat and believe that it is of an acceptable eating quality.

“Furthermore, with an average willingness to pay $18/kg for good everyday meat, and $32/kg for premium quality, there is a sure market for goatmeat domestically in Australia,” Dr Lees said.

Dr Lees said while the results were positive for the industry, they demonstrated the need to manage processing factors that impact eating quality, and for more cut-by-cook research for goatmeat.

“Many of the carcases were chilled too quickly post-mortem, leading to a condition called cold shortening, which drastically increases the toughness of meat due to shortening of muscle fibres increasing connective density,” Dr Lees said.

“Observing this shows that there is a need to control post slaughter factors that may impact on goatmeat eating quality and domestic consumer acceptance of goatmeat just like we had to do in lamb some 20 years ago.

“One definitive outcome of this work has been that the management of carcases from slaughter through chilling is paramount to ensuring there is no impact of post-slaughter processes on eating quality.

“The large variation in shear force, which on average was higher than that reported in lamb, was similar to those recorded in the early days of the MSA sheepmeat research.

“There was good variation in IMF% in the 12 carcases that were tested. This outcome shows that there is excellent genetic variation within goats, providing this industry with the ability to make genetic change relatively quickly if those with favourable genes can be identified.

“The incorporation of these traits into the KIDPLAN genetic evaluation tool would allow producers to drive genetic progress for these traits whilst balancing other production factors in the same way the beef and sheepmeat industry have. Data capture would be a key enabler of the development of genetic selection tools,” Dr Lees said.

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