DENVER, Colo. — “It’s been three years since our rebranding, and the American Lamb Checkoff lit a fire with consumers this past year,” said 2021 American Lamb Board (ALB) Past Chair, Gwendolyn Kitzan in the board’s just released FY2021 Annual Report. “What could have been months of downturn for our industry, has sparked some of the best sales increases we’ve seen.”
The 2021 American Lamb Board Annual Report is available at LambResourceCenter.com.
In 2021, as in 2020, ALB responded to the changes brought about in the U.S. sheep industry by the COVID pandemic and other situations with strategic action, seizing new opportunities to expand lamb’s place in the US diet and economy. In Fiscal Year 2021 (October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021) ALB had a total budget of $1.6 million, allocated as follows: $995,040 for promotion, $236,365 for communications, $106,098 for research, $132,640 for USDA oversight and $132,009 for administration.
Promotions continued to be a primary part of ALB’s work during the past year. As confined consumers turned to their outside grills, so did ALB. Its Food Blogger Network was expanded to include outdoor cooking experts for a total of 24 paid partnerships with a social media reach of 6.9 million, who contributed 34 new American Lamb recipes with photos and videos.
Total media reach hit 20 billion impressions and 4,400 lamb articles. Consumer media gave considerable coverage to the ALB Outdoor Cooking Poll, which kicked off a series of seasonal social media promotions. ALB’s new take on Lamb Lover’s Month and holiday cooking rounded out seasonal promotions.
Virtual events also hit the spot to take the place of traditional face-to-face activities. Outdoor cooking workshops, an American Culinary Federation butchery demo, and Homemade Consumer Cooking Classes were immensely popular. 2021 saw Taziki’s Mediterranean Café add a heavily promoted American Lamb Burger to its menu, and Lebanese Taverna rolled out a holiday takeout pack at its D.C.-area restaurants.
In 2021, ALB partnered with Premier 1 Supplies to sponsor a video series on lamb quality for sheep producers. Produced by North Dakota State University Extension Service, the series is available at LambResourceCenter.com.
ALB also provided promotional tools to help the industry reach consumers with American Lamb’s message and assisted local lamb groups reach out through its Lamb Promotional Partnership Program. And ALB made plans to sponsor the American Lamb Summit scheduled for August 8-11, 2022.
Providing the latest information requires an investment in research. ALB is in the midst of a multi-phase flavor profiling project with Texas Tech and Colorado State universities. Phase III found Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) is accurate in predicting flavor attributes that correlate with consumer sensory panel testing. The knowledge will enable classifying lamb into flavor profiles to market lamb more successfully to consumers with differing preferences.
Meanwhile, a new multi-year study at Michigan State University is identifying lamb’s environmental footprint to provide accurate data and opportunities for industry improvements.
The American Lamb Board is your national mandatory checkoff, focused on building awareness and expanding demand for American Lamb and strengthening its position in the marketplace, thereby increasing the potential long-range economic growth of all industry sectors. The board of directors represents all segments of the industry and is nominated by certified industry organizations, appointed by the US Secretary of Agriculture and overseen by the USDA. Programs are implemented by staff in Denver, Colorado.
–American Lamb Board