A plan to encourage more goat farmers to supply a quality item to discerning diners and shoppers in South Australian restaurants and butcher shops has received a “really positive survey”, according to its supporters.
Antap International had 85 attendees at the three familiarization days it held in St George, Dirranbandi and Roma, attracting everyone from growers to local government workers, business and banking managers.
General Manager John Wallace said it was exciting to start something from the ground up and grow it.
“Where you start may not be where you end, but we’re in progress,” he said.
The South Pacific Trading Company believes that there is a gap in the market for a high quality milk-toothed goat product, in the weight range of 18-25 kg, based on demand from ethnic consumers in the South.
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Using the expertise of Boer goat farmer Graham Reimers, nutrition expert Paul Pritchard and businessman Kim Sullivan, the foursome presented a holistic approach to meeting the specifications to interested producers.
Mr Wallace said while processors were enthusiastic, a shortage of workers was a potential problem for the scheme.
“Every processor is struggling with Covid – capacity will be the issue for the next six months,” he said. “We want to do it right, so we’re investing ahead of the curve – it shows where we’d like to go.”
Consistency and product quality are big challenges facing the goat meat industry, which Wallace said was partly because processors took what they wanted, but partly because of the uncertainty surrounding what the market wanted.
He said Antap would focus on cartons rather than carcasses, saying he believed the market for carcasses was down worldwide.
“We want to work with growers rather than depots and agents,” he added.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the process was seeing farmers commit to improving their operations, which Wallace said would in itself bring them more benefits.
“Whether it’s 8kg or 20kg, it’s a killer package,” he said. “A better quality animal should get a better premium, but the market has always been an undefined commodity at this point.”
Roma’s Josh Allen said the structure of the day and the breeding ideals presented were very instructive.
He has been tending goats for two years, joining 600 goats and sending his product west to Western Meat Exporters in Charleville for slaughter.
He said at this point he wasn’t sure about making any changes.
Mr Wallace said Antap was still working on its price and still talking with processors and wholesalers.
“This is a framing mission, there is still a lot to do,” he said. “The feedback we are receiving these days will allow us to add more to our scoping plan.”
A lot of information about goat feeding was given during the workshops and the participants were informed that there would be more training sessions for the participants.
The company has a weekly slaughter target of 600 head, with the potential to rise to 1,000 head, and Mr Wallace said they could set up grower groups to source supplies.
“We could expect 1,000 head a month from that, not from every person, and give them a timeline,” he said.
Mr Wallace said Antap would hold similar scoping days in New South Wales, depending on demand.
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