American consumers increasingly choose foods with health and nutrition in mind. Couple that with the American palate’s progressively more adventurous spirit, and you have an excellent opportunity for lean lamb.

The Tri-Lamb Group, an initiative spearheaded by lamb producers from the United States, Australia and New Zealand, aims to leverage these two strong consumer trends through a collaborative “Lean on Lamb” nutrition marketing effort.

Data from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Prevention magazine’s 2013 Shopping For Health survey tells us that consumers want to eat healthy. In fact, 81 percent of grocery shoppers report putting at least “some” or “a lot” of effort into healthy eating. And approximately one-third of shoppers said they are inspired to eat healthy by friends and family. 

In addition, sales of ethnic foods in grocery stores are on the rise. Market research firm The Mintel Group estimates that ethnic food sales will grow more than 20 percent between 2012 and 2017, with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods increasing the most in terms of dollar sales. As a predominant red meat in traditional cuisines from around the world, lamb is well-positioned to benefit from the growing interest in ethnic flavors and foods.

Lamb’s key nutritional attributes

  • Lean — On average, a 3-ounce serving of lean lamb has only 170 calories. Lean cuts include the leg, loin and rack.
  • Omega-3s — Lamb can contribute to your daily intake of the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic (ALA). A 3-ounce serving of lean lamb provides about the same amount of omega-3s found in a 1 tablespoon serving of olive oil.
  • Nutrient Rich — Lamb is naturally nutrient rich and, on average, an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc and selenium, and a good source of iron and riboflavin. 

An opportunity for lamb

Trendsetters from cutting edge restaurants to food trucks are increasingly embracing lamb to make everything from exotic tagines to savory lamb burgers. With close to 40 percent of Americans having never tried lamb, the Tri-Lamb Group encourages consumers to serve it at dinner parties, creating occasions to remember and introducing guests to a healthy, versatile protein that adds variety to the diet. 

The “Lean on Lamb” marketing effort has recently worked with key influencers to host lamb supper clubs and dinner parties, and launched a “Healthy Entertaining with Lamb” video series to educate and inspire consumers. In addition, the program works closely with food and nutrition media, educating them on the nutritional benefits of lamb and providing resources such as simple, health recipes; comprehensive nutrition data; cut information; and access to nutrition experts. The Tri-Lamb Group’s recently launched newsletter for retail dietitians educates these important influencers on lamb’s nutritional profile and provides customer education resources.

The opportunity to educate consumers and exposure them to lamb increases as healthy eating and ethnic food trends grow and converge. Both retail and foodservice channels can provide solutions for consumers that deliver on these trends and encourage use of lamb for healthy entertaining — from supper clubs, to dinner parties, to summer grilling.