Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Hopping to Oblivion

July 17th, 2012 · 12 Comments


The Jenga-like nature of markets is revealed in the tale of Australia’s kangaroo-meat crisis. There was a time when steaks and chops taken from Down Under’s most celebrated marsupials seemed destined to become a staple of butcher’s shops the world over. No country developed a more ravenous appetite for kangaroo meat than Russia, which came to account for 70 percent of the global market. Then, in 2009, Russia abruptly decided that it wasn’t cool with the hardscrabble ways in which the meat is produced. (See here for the first-person account of an Outback ‘roo shooter.) The Russian ban has yet to be lifted, to the great distress of Australian producers who claim they’re on the edge of extinction.

So what is the solution, other than coaxing Russia to start eating ‘roo meat once more? Sausages:

Tapping new markets for roo meat is seen as the best solution to help the struggling industry and deal with the overpopulation of kangaroos.

John Kelly, Australian Kangaroo Industry Association chief says top quality cuts of kangaroo meat – like steaks – continue to be exported to over 50 countries.

Mr Kelly says the problem is selling what is termed manufacturing meat – like sausage mince – from kangaroos.

“What we desperately need is for these other meat cuts to find a new market, as this is what the Russians were buying,” he said.

This presents a fascinating marketing challenge: How do you convince consumers to not only start eating a meat that is strange to them, but also one that is so low-grade that it must be mashed up into a tubular concoction rife with herbs and spices? And how do you compete on price against industrial meats like beef and pork? Roaming around the Outback with a rifle is labor intensive, and thus expensive.

Leave your ideas for kangaroo-sausage ad slogans in comments.

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12 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    “So tasty it’ll kick you in the stomach!”

    “Roo-licious!”

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    “The Flavor Will Make You Hop!”

    “Put One in Your Pouch!”

    “The Amazing, Edible Marsupial!”

    (Okay, so that last one doesn’t work. Plus the Egg Council would probably come after the kangaroo folks for trademark infringement.)

  • tsg

    ‘Roo: The Other Cute Meat.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @tsg: I dunno, man. The National Pork Board is notoriously litigious.

  • tsg

    @Brendan,

    Damn those pugnacious porcine product pushers. I’d forgotten about their war on unicorn meat, thanks for the reminder.

    For some reason, I just can’t get this slogan challenge off my mind.

    “Don’t rue the day, eat roo today!”

    “Roo are what roo eat.”

    “Satisfy you hunger with the sausage from Down Under.”

    All terrible, but the best I can think of other than my original suggestion.

  • Chris Labarthe

    I am going to scatter the area for a perfect reference kangaroo sausage.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    The more I think about this issue, the more I think the kangaroo folks have no choice but to emphasize the Australian-ness of the product. There’s no getting past the fact that most consumers think of ‘roos as pretty darn cute, and so will not be terribly inclined to gobble them up as sausages. But if you link ‘roo consumption with Aussie stereotypes of adventure and hyper-masculinity, maybe you’ve got something.

    “Taste the Adventure”

  • Chris Labarthe

    “That’s not a sausage … THAT’S a sausage.”

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Chris Labarthe: Well, Paul Hogan could certainly use the money these days.

  • tsg

    @Chris Labarthe,

    Nice. Would also make for a perfect adult film parody.

    @Brendan,

    “Taste the Adventure” is also excellent. I can hear it in the rugged tone of the Outback commercial voice-over guy in my head. I appreciate your effort to come up with something that might actually work in the real world, but at the end of the day I think the “cute factor” is insurmountable, at least in Western markets.

    Then again, perhaps you could market it toward the hipster, “nose-to-tail,” sustainable meat, offal munching gourmands. I’m sure Tony Bourdain would greedily gobble up the lesser cuts of the ‘roo, cooked properly. Mmmm, ‘roo brains poached in wallaby blood and Foster’s ale atop a terrine of cain toad and croc liver.

  • zeb

    Hmm. I know quite a lot of people who eat only kangaroo meat for ethical reasons – ‘kangatarians‘.

    Low environmental impact, and a relatively humane death (in NSW, it’s illegal to sell non head-shot kangaroos. )

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @zeb: Thanks for the links. The SMH piece includes the makings of a possible ad slogan: “The ultimate free-range meat.” Though perhaps that could be altered to “The ultimate free-range treat”–a nice little flicks at the fact that it will be comparatively expensive for non-Australian consumers.

    As you can tell, I harbor a small fantasy about getting hired to direct the kangaroo industry’s rebranding campaign…

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