HIGH ON A HILL
Goat dairies are getting a little less lonely
Dairies continue to move into new lines, with Khoury Dairy expanding its goat dairy production, while a new firm, Goutblanc, is solely focused on goat dairy.
Goat dairy products are popular in the countryside, but have not made the same inroads commercially. Holding such development back was a hygiene scandal with small scale production some 30 years ago that has lingered in consumers’ minds; dairies have tried before to set up commercial goat farms but could not find a viable market. As a result, the founders of Goutblanc started raising 60 goats as a trial in 2006, and only started selling on the market in late 2014 once they had 600 milking females and felt there was enough niche demand.
According to Mazen Khoury, production manager at Khoury Dairy, goat products are less than 10 percent of the Lebanese dairy market, but are set to become a trend. The dairy has some 3,000 goats, and the firm is expanding production of cheese. Market leader Taanayel Les Fermes also produces goat products, but only Khoury and Goutblanc have automated goat milking facilities.
Goutblanc is banking on the rise in consumption of dairy products to help drive demand as consumers diversify their tastes. “Marketing has changed people’s habits and the tradition of eating food, and we are catching up in terms of [goat dairy] consumption with Europe and the world. So in our thinking, the Lebanese consumer will catch up, goat dairy produce will become a trend and we will be able to produce liquid goat milk,” says Walid Bou Habib, the company’s owner and general manager. He expects a return on their investment of $2.5 million within three years.
Aware of the renewed focus among the public about hygiene conditions, Goutblanc built its facility in Annaya according to specifications from French standards body AFNOR while Jihad Daher, a trained agricultural engineer and the dairy’s technical manager, has spent several years involved in goat husbandry. “A problem here is there’s no scientific support or vets specialized in goats, so we need to control all of that ourselves,” says Daher.