There are approximately 80,000 farmers and ranchers in the U.S. that produce 100 million pounds of lamb each year for the U.S. market. Roughly 40 percent of American Lamb is sold into foodservice and 60 percent into retail. Lamb imports from Australia and New Zealand represent approximately half of total lamb supplies in the U.S.

Lamb sales

Per capita consumption of lamb in the U.S. has remained steady over the past 10 years at approximately one pound per person. According to FreshLook Marketing data, fresh lamb sales (pounds sold) in the latest 52 week ending June 14, 2015, increased 2.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago while total fresh meat sales decreased by 2.7 percent. The top-selling retail cuts by pounds sold are leg, shoulder and loin. The highest consumption of lamb is in the Northeast, Southeast and California — accounting for 70 percent of total U.S. lamb sales.

The lamb consumer

The average lamb household spends 30 percent more per year on food than the average household. Lamb consumers tend be well-educated, have higher incomes and specifically look for healthy, high-quality foods. They are more and more interested in where their food comes from, how it was raised and how it impacts the environment.

Interest in lamb is increasing yet consumers are not confident in how to buy and prepare it. While price is still a top barrier to purchasing lamb, there is great opportunity to increase lamb consumption by educating consumers about how to cook lamb and providing easy recipes.

Lamb is the protein of choice in many countries throughout the world and not surprisingly, there is strong demand for lamb by numerous ethnic groups in the United States including the growing Hispanic and Muslim populations. Minority populations account for a significant portion of the total U.S. lamb consumption. NP

State of the Industry 2015 segments

Industry overview Goes live Oct. 6
Food Safety Oct. 7
Packaging Oct. 8
Beef (NCBA) Oct. 9
Beef (CAB) Oct. 12
Pork Oct. 13
Chicken Oct. 14
Turkey Oct. 15
Veal Oct. 16
Lamb Oct. 19