A magazine called Food Companion is running a food industry competition for the best new name for kangaroo meat. Why a new name? Obviously they believe that the cute animal thing interferes with the eat fleshy thing. The argument is, we don’t eat cows we eat beef. We don’t eat pigs we eat pork. So I’m going to go along with this and develop a name by the end of the article. To help you go the distance, I promise not to make any lame kangaroo gags.
Obviously the first thing to do is find out what’s what in the industry. The Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia’s strategic plan is located here. It’s been put together by industry people and it’s a very honest assessment of where they are. I’m going to accept their conclusions. Here’s a bit of an overview:
The industry continues to grow at about 7% per annum, ie. they’re doing pretty well. It splits up into skins (sold overseas), manufacturing meat (the profitable un-tapped small-goods segment), pet meat (substantial domestic sales) and human consumption (under-developed). Obviously we need to concentrate on HC here.
The market is domestic; apparently there is too much anti-industry propaganda overseas and reading between the lines they could not reliably supply large export quantities anyway. The industry cull is decided by government on the basis of the annual environmental conditions.
Their strengths include a good healthy product and a great environmental story. Weaknesses? Persistent “consumer perception” problems, a “challenging” taste and perhaps connected to that, a lack of enthusiasm from restaurants.
The study makes clear that the industry doesn’t yet know what it’s image should be (they are going to research this) but we know that the product will need to be premium priced compared to beef. I think the research will say their best bet is “healthy red-meat alternative”.
I heard someone say that one strong possibility for a name was to use one of the several hundred aboriginal words describing kangaroos. WRONG! BAD STUDENT! The bush dining experience is not the next big thing in Australian cafés; don’t go there.
So now that we know a little about the product, let’s think about how it’s going to be marketed. The meat is rich and gamey but I think the main strength is the “lean and healthy” message. Contemporary cuisine has moved away from steaks and it would help to concentrate on forms which remind people less of the cute animal; mince, strips and carpaccio for instance. Seems to me every time you serve a kangaroo steak you invite a comparison with beef.
The carpaccio is a starter, the mince might be developed as a pasta dish (the most popular main in Australia) and the strips might be an Asian dish with noodles and vegetables. You’d need a couple of signature dishes which could be promoted with national competitions. Blow your promotional budget on Best Kangaroo Salad; Best Kangaroo Pasta dish. Don’t for God’s sake waste it on boring old magazine advertising.
The Japanese eat fried crickets at New Year by the way so you could invent an Australian New Year dish called kanga cricket. Sorry.
So. The name. Well, you could aim for something health-driven or environmental but that would be WRONG! IDIOT! It’s FOOD you bone-head; you gotta go for appetite appeal. It should say moist, succulent, tender, juicy, spicy, saucy. If that made your mouth water you know I’m on the right track. The sound of it should dance on the tongue, hang on the roof of your mouth and slip down your throat like an oyster. If it’s to be served with pasta it should sound like a town in rural Umbria. Feminine, alluring, wanting you back; andelina.