The goat reinvented

From “being a poor man's cow to the 21st century milk producer”

Published in El Pais, 14 April 2018

Last week I was in Brussels for meetings at an agency of the European Commission. Although I am not a great fan of meetings, these ones are always a lot of fun because of the large variety of professionals joining. And so I met an agricultural advisor from Belgium who mentioned me that in recent years the number of milk goats increased a lot in the Netherlands and Belgium (almost 300%). I was always a great admirer of goats, and this comment surprised me.

You probably wonder now, what is so amazing about goats that I admire them? A little lesson. Goats have been around for milk, meat, hide and dung production for almost 10.000 years! They are incredible resilient and there are breeds that can resist a broad range of temperatures and altitudes. Whereas cows are difficult to transport, goats can be taken almost on the back of your bike. Besides, they produce more milk per Kg of body weight. And of course, they are more fun that a cow.

The question now, why did so many farms switch from the goat to the cow in the past? Well merely because on a large scale the cow has a better return on the investment. So it is economically a sound decision. A sad thing because goat milk contains more essential fatty acids and has smaller fat globules which makes it healthier and easier to digest than cow’s milk. Ah, and let us not forget that it has less lactose, which is nice if you are allergic to it. The consumer however hasn’t discovered this yet and sticks to cow milk.

According to FAO, in 2016, 83% of all the milk was produced by cows, second are buffalos with 14% and the goat is only 2% just before sheep with 1%. Nowadays, with a consumer becoming more interested in new healthier products, there might be many opportunities for goat milk in modern markets. In 2016 25% of all the goat milk was produced in India. But if you see that in the Netherlands, which is the center of milk cows in the world, the production of goat milk increased with 70% in ten years, there might be something going on!

So, the cute and curious animal once known as the poor man’s cow, maybe will cause a revolution and we will need to change the reference into: “The goat, the 21st century cow!”

About Arnold Hagens 89 Articles
Arnold Hagens is Economist with strong interest in technology, marketing and coaching

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