KANSAS CITY, MO. – Increasingly, Americans are looking for ways to diversify their home cooking repertoires. Protein is at the center of this decision-making process, and lamb is one of the proteins that more and more adventurous consumers are turning to.
Lamb exports to the United States from Australia, by far the largest exporter of lamb to the United States, are up 13% from 2021, despite severe logistical and labor issues. impacting the supply chain,” said Doug McNicholl, regional manager – North America for meat. & Livestock Australia (MLA).
Homebound cooks during the pandemic deserve a lot of the credit.
“The popularity of lamb has increased during the COVID-19 lockdown period as consumers experimented with different proteins to break up the monotony of lockdowns,” McNicholl said. “This has created the opportunity for lamb suppliers to retain consumer interest beyond the initial trial period.”
Taking a longer-term view, McNicholl added that lamb is popular among ethnically diverse and affluent consumers, a population expected to reach 50-60 million in the United States by 2030. And because there are a very limited supply of domestically grown lamb, imports play an important role in meeting demand.
From January to May 2022, Australia shipped 35,000 tonnes of mutton to the United States, 87% of which was lamb. Lamb represents a disproportionately lucrative market for Australian shippers. Although representing only 19% of exports by volume, US exports accounted for 28% of total value.
Australia accounted for 77% of the US mutton, goat and lamb import market share from January to April.
Between the second quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2022, lamb sales in dollars increased by 15.7% and sales in volume increased by 9.3%.
Peak consumption occurs at Easter and Christmas, but MLA makes it a priority to increase consumption outside of these peak times. Fortunately, the industry has several trends working in its favor to help achieve this goal.
“Once again niche, lamb has become a mainstream protein, driven by growing consumer desire for health and wellness, exploration and the growing popularity of ethnic cuisine,” McNicholl said. “Australian lamb is lean and mild tasting, inspiring people to cook in new and exciting ways that enhance any occasion.”
The Australian industry has seen an increase in demand for lamb burgers, nachos and tacos as well as traditional holiday preparations.
Beyond that, McNicholl added, the importance of variety in the wake of COVID-19 cannot be understated. Forty-two percent of consumers say they buy different types of protein, providing a good opportunity for lamb to be on more and more American dining tables.
As tastes and the need for greater variety continue to evolve, Australian lamb is poised to meet the demand for quality, flavor and consistency, with a huge range of cuts and ranges of products, all raised and processed to some of the highest standards in the world, McNicholl says.
“It is free-range and naturally feeds on our abundant meadows, so it tastes sweet and naturally lean and tender – a pure product of its pure environment.”
Buyers are attracted by the quality, naturalness and health attributes of lamb. But, like most foods, it all comes down to taste.
Merchandising: best practices
The key to marketing lamb at retail, McNicholl said, is making sure it’s easy to find and easy to cook.
“Ensuring high visibility is important, as is highlighting the health and welfare attributes of the lamb – an area where Australian lamb suppliers can help.”
Highlighting in-store recipes can help build buyer familiarity and confidence when buying. And seasonal marketing is always a good way for grocers to refresh their product lineup and stay relevant to shoppers.
Even in times of inflation, premium products like lamb have their place, McNicholl said.
“People are looking for bargains, but they still occasionally buy high-end products like affordable splurges. Lamb can play a big role for grocers here by providing variety and specialty that other proteins cannot. »
Highlighting Australian lamb in-store to help “elevate the everyday”, he said, was a proven winner when marketing the meat crate.
In addition to funding and marketing its generic category brand for all Australian suppliers, True Aussie, MLA is co-investing with commercial brand owners to scale and inform their in-market efforts, McNicholl said.
With True Aussie Lamb, the organization offers a range of services, including category brand marketing, developing educated Aussie Lamb ambassadors among food industry professionals and other influential professions, management targeted key account and supply chain activities, including trade shows, point of sale and in-store promotions, menu promotions and joint marketing activities with brand owners.
“We also collect and communicate marketing information to Australian growers through our website, e-news and forums so they have the latest information to make the best possible marketing decisions.”
An example of these insights: MLA’s Voice of the Shopper research found that the shopping journey for most protein begins before the consumer even walks into the store. Over 80% of shoppers use shopping lists and almost half of them are digital. As a result, MLA is working with Australian lamb suppliers and their retail partners to quickly get lamb onto shopping lists using purchasable recipes and integrating Australian lamb into list app networks. of digital races.
Caring for animals, the environment and people every day is central to the mission and marketing messages of the Australian lamb industry.
“Because so much of our livestock is raised on natural grasslands, caring for the land is critical to our success around the world,” McNicholl said. “This care extends from paddock to plate, in how generations of growers seek to continually improve and reduce their impact on the planet.”
Australia’s red meat industry has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2030, and the beef and sheep industries have established world-leading sustainability frameworks to guide their sustainable development, it said. he adds.
To date, the Australian red meat industry has reduced its net annual greenhouse gas emissions by 57% since 2005. In 2020, Australian lamb was climate neutral, meaning the industry does not has not contributed to a further increase in global temperature.