Demand for American lamb increases in second quarter

There’s good news and bad news in this pandemic. The good news is that retail sales of all lamb in the United States are increasing.

“The combination of consumers cooking at home, the desire for new meal options, the hard work by lamb marketers, retailers and American Lamb Board checkoff efforts seem to be opening consumers to lamb’s possibilities, and it shows in the numbers,” says Gwen Kitzan, ALB chair from Newell, South Dakota.

The latest retail data—analyzed by IRI/FreshLook Marketing, and released by ALB—quantifies the growth in retail sales for all lamb (domestic and imported) through July 12. Retail sales data show pounds of all lamb sold at multi-outlet supermarkets in the United States in the 13-week period from April 20 through July 12, increased 8.6% compared to the same period in 2019. That’s 16.3 million pounds of lamb sold and $137.8 million in sales during the quarter.

In the last four weeks of the period (June 15 through July 12) pounds of lamb sold increased 29.8% compared to the same period one year ago, and lamb dollars spent increased 38.2% to $40.5 million.

The IRI/FreshLook analysis also looked at the longer term. Comparison of the current 52-week period to the prior 52 weeks shows a 6.8% increase in lamb pounds sold and a 9.8% increase in sales dollars.

The increase in pounds of lamb sold and lamb dollars spent showed across the board when designated by cut. The loin continues to be the most popular cut with consumers, accounting for 24.9% of pounds of lamb sold. It was followed by the rib at 21.3 %. The two cuts saw an increase in pounds of lamb sold of 13.1% and 12% respectively during the same time in 2019.

The northeast region continues to outsell other areas of the country, accounting for 29.8% of lamb dollar sales with a 10.1% increase during the same 52-week period one year ago. The southeast and the mid-south came in second and third in %age of lamb market, but it was California that showed the most impressive growth at 16.7%. There, the 13-week second quarter growth came in at 39.5% more lamb pounds consumed and 37% more dollars spent than the second quarter of 2019, while the four-week period of June 15 to July 12 saw a 60.7% increase in pounds consumed and a 64.8% increase in lamb dollars spent during the same period in the prior year.

Even the region with the lowest lamb market share—the plains—saw a 1.6% increase in lamb dollar sales during the second quarter 2020 compared with the second quarter of 2019.

The full Fresh Meat and Lamb Review report for retail sales through July 12, is available for the American lamb industry at Members of the industry can apply for access by completing the online form.