Lamb increases retail sales during COVID

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DENVER — 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 U.S. Retail Sales Report commissioned by the American Lamb Board. 

The 2021 first-quarter report assesses the U.S. lamb market by comparing four-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 quarters three and four of 2020. 

Compared to 2019, rack sales increased 52.8% in terms of pounds sold. Sales of ground lamb also saw considerable growth, with a 23.7% increase in volume sales. As a region, California has seen the most growth since 2019 in terms of both dollar sales, with a 30.6% increase, and pounds sold, with a 29.6% increase. 

Nonetheless, the Northeast remains the highest-selling region by a significant margin, accounting for 29% of all lamb sales in the U.S. 

Lamb retail sales remained strong into the first quarter of 2021. Sales of lamb in quarter one 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 quarter one (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 quarter one of 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.”

For copies of the Sales Data Report or Retail Demand Index Report for Lamb, contact Rae Villa at rae@americanlamb.com.

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