Market prices for small ruminants have been steadily high for the past few years. The demand is there but the supply is not.
Dirk Boogerd, producer and Ontario Goat chair milks 500 goats east of Embro and he’s noticed the usual post-Easter price drop has been slower than previous years.
He says many producers are taking advantage of the opportunity and selling kids as they can.
“Producers are selling kids a little younger, about 45 to 50 pounds even, where the good prices are. They are not taking the risk in case the price does come down.”
Why it matters: Stability in goat and sheep meat markets helps make business decisions more predictable for farmers.
Boogerd says the demand is found in the Greater Toronto (GTA) and Hamilton area.
“There is a high demand for fresh goat meat. Goat meat is right up there [with the lamb] and there is limited access to it. The demand is there and the supply hasn’t matched that yet.”
Sheep producer and Ontario Sheep Chair Marc Carere noticed the same trend on the sheep side of production; the Ontario supply is not fulfilling the demand, leading to high lamb prices.
“The first six months of the year are usually low supply – April, May, June are the peaks of the year because of this low supply and high demand,” says Carere.
Demand wanes in the last six months of the year the demand tapers off, but the yearly average has been steadily increasing and remaining high for the past few years.
“Not very many commodities have seen the kind of price increase we have seen and [have it remain] steady over the last 10 years,” says Carere.
Carere says the ethnic groups found in the GTA have helped with this increase.
These markets and trends have helped to stabilize the sector, although growth has been slow.
“It goes to show that people that sell animals that are good quality and are taken care of get rewarded,” says Boogerd.
Small ruminant producers have been fortunate to experience this market increase. Some weight categories have seen almost a 50 per cent increase, but farmers still need to prepare for the low market prices throughout the year.
Carere says that successful business people know their market, what they are marketing and who for, they know their cost of production and are in constant contact with their customer to help navigate the market.
Market awareness for producers and supports for new farmers are areas that could help to increase supply.
That doesn’t mean everyone who jumps into the small ruminant industry will make a profit over night and be successful, he said. It is a business, It’s complicated and it will take time to realize profits.
“People have been working hard the last 20 years to create the right environment for success – the industry needs a steady supply of product of regular type quality and [Ontario Sheep is] trying to create the right environment for the producers that are trying to get there,” says Carere.