Globally-recognised primary sector consultants think Hawke's Bay is perfectly position to get a share of a new $1 billion food industry — if farmers can be convinced to diversify into goat meat.
Speaking to more than 200 people at yesterday's Future Foods Conference in Napier, Frost and Sullivan APAC food and beverage programme lead Natasha Telles D'Costa told the conference — attended by representatives from the food and primary sectors from across New Zealand — that Hawke's Bay's best opportunity to develop more value-added products should focus on goat meat, rather than plant-based alternatives.
"We identified that goat meat, in the immediate timeline, was going to be relevant for Hawke's Bay.
"You would be surprised to know that goat meat is actually the world's most consumed meat. It's lean, it has a heart-healthy image.
"It is a market that is growing, it's a market where more and more people are looking interested in how you can cook it because it lends itself to several different cuisines — and most of all, we have the facilities here.
The whole $1b goat industry is also in short supply. Most people that eat it, are the people who have traditionally grown it to eat and there's not enough any more.
"More importantly, goats go really well with bad pasture land that can't be used for dairy."
D'Costa said the findings built on work carried out in Hawke's Bay in 2013, on what could be done with large numbers of billy goats in the region.
"Right now we are culling them, so then this idea came up on how we actually use them and goat meat was the obvious choice. We were sitting around the table with HBRC and we decided to look into it.
"Right now the challenge is still convincing farmers there is a market."
However, she also pointed out opportunities in the dairy industry.
KPMG agri-food team member Julia Jones told the conference alternative proteins and natural whole foods could both exist side by side.
"Diversity of land use doesn't just mean shifting to something different. Biodiversity is the way of future, working together — things having some intersection together. So, you might have three things on your farm.
The key thing is we might have yellow peas that we grow, milk some cows and grow some lettuces.
"It's not saying that everything we have been doing is wrong. The reality is the world has shifted and we have to show farmers some support and some flight-paths to show them what they need to do to make changes. Then we can embrace the alternative protein side of things as well."