Consumer Demand for Lamb Continues to Rise

by Colter Brown

Consumer demand for lamb increased considerably during 2020.  While all meat sales grew in 2020 as more meals were consumed at home, lamb sales grew at a larger percentage than total meat sales overall.  That’s the word from the latest US Retail Sales Report commissioned by the American Lamb Board (ALB).

The 2021 Q1 report assesses the US lamb market by comparing 4-week, 12-week, and 52-week intervals to one year prior 2020 saw a 24.7 % increase in lamb dollar sales from 2019 and a 17.7% increase in pounds sold from 2019.  Sales of rack exploded in Q3 and Q4 of 2020.  Compared to 2019, rack sales increased 52.8% in terms of pounds sold.  Sales of ground lamb also saw considerable growth – ground lamb saw a 23.7% increase in volume sales.

As a region, California has seen the most growth since 2019 in terms of both dollar sales (30.6% increase) and pounds sold (29.6% increase).  Nonetheless, the Northeast remains the highest selling region by a significant margin – accounting for 29% of all lamb sales in the US.

Lamb retail sales remained strong into the first quarter of 2021.  Sales of lamb in Q1 outperformed the same 12 weeks a year ago by a sizable margin:  dollar sales increased 19.8 % and volume sales increased 11.8%.  Rack sales grew significantly during Q1 (no holidays), increasing by 53.8% in volume sales.

All cuts of lamb other than loin chops saw double digit growth in dollar sales during Q1 2021 versus a year ago.  Loin chops saw only a 5.4% increase and its market share of total sales dropped from 31% a year ago to 27% in 2021 (only two percentage points more than ribeye).

“The report clearly reflects that as consumers gained kitchen confidence during Covid, their willingness to try new products and new recipes increased,” says American Lamb Board Chairman Gwen Kitzan. “Cooking and sharing meals with loved ones has become a form of entertainment for many consumers and many people will continue to prepare more meals at home even as restaurants open up,” said Gwen Kitzan, ALB Chairman. “We will continue to focus on educating new lamb consumers by sharing simple recipes, information about nutritional benefits, ease of preparation, versatility of cuts and cooking techniques, and how American Lamb is raised.”




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