Red Meat Crop
Jo Stewart & Craig Stewart
The Gourmet Goat Lady
Changing the way Australians think about and enjoy goat meat
When Jo Stewart and her husband, Craig started rearing goats, they raised a few eyebrows in their little town of Collie NSW. With 90 percent of goat meat in Australia destined for export markets, Australians have been slow to catch on to the delicate, juicy and healthy delights of this ‘other red meat’.
But Jo and Craig are rearing Boer goats— a premium meat breed from South Africa—and their company, The Gourmet Goat Lady is changing the way Australians think about and enjoy goat meat. “To me, goat is the new, healthy lamb and it should be an Australian staple” Jo says. With higher iron and protein content than lamb and beef but with lower calorie and fat content than chicken, Jo believes goatmeat is the new superfood and her company is targeting the rapidly growing health-conscious consumer market in Australia.
Demand for goat meat has been increasing in Australia over the past few decades as a consequence of diverse migrant population growth. It has long been a staple throughout much of the world. “But we are also now seeing an increase in demand for premium goat meat products by Australian consumers who are often trying goat for the first time” Jo explained.
Most of the company’s sales are to high-end butchers, restaurants and providores. “Our farmed graded goat has gained status as a premium product” Jo said, as Michelin star chefs have been turning to goat to update their tired recipes and put a new twist on traditional dishes. Chefs are putting goat on everything from pizza to roasting goat leg or making goat cutlets.
The Gourmet Goat Lady has enjoyed converting many sceptics to the delicious appeal of goats with their own ready-made meals. The company started selling Capretto, a sweet, soft, slow roasted baby goat. Capretto is a traditional Italian, Spanish and Greek dish so it has always done well in the diaspora markets in Australia. “We grew quickly from there and keep finding new customer segments really interested in exploring goat meat” she said.
For Craig and Jo, goat is also an important meat for the Australian market due to its lighter environmental footprint, offering a more sustainable protein to the market. Their company is always developing a range of innovative ways to make their farm more sustainable as well as looking at creative ways of getting goat into more Australian households. “I’m always challenging myself to add more value and new ways we can experience this meat” she explains.
“We are living in an exciting time for the meat and livestock industry. Consumers are demanding new experiences and new ways to enjoy meat alongside exploring healthier meat cuts and sustainably and ethically farmed animals – think everything from meat-based jellybeans to ready-made meat snacks in vending machines!” she said. Jo and Craig are particularly interested in ways to use the whole carcass, including the bones—which helps reduce waste.
The Rocket Seeder/Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Red Meat Accelerator has been a particularly useful experience for them. “This accelerator has given us more confidence to experiment and a new way to assess different business models and the value of new product lines.” Craig said.
Craig, who is from a long line of cattle farmers, says he was initially somewhat reluctant to make the switch from beef to goats. “In Collie, people started calling Jo ‘that goat lady’ and we used the name a bit tongue in cheek”. But they confidently claim the mantle these days, with Jo proclaiming “I AM the Gourmet Goat Lady!”