DENVER, Colo. — The U.S. Quarterly Lamb Retail Sales Report for Q4 2021 shows lamb performed better during 2021 than 2020. The report was compiled by Midan Marketing, LLC for the American Lamb Board (ALB) using retail scanner data from IRI representing all lamb retail sales (American and imported).
Lamb has seen tremendous retail sales growth in the past two years. Lamb and exotics were the only meat categories to grow volume in 2021 compared to 2020. Compared to 2019 (a more normal year/pre-covid) rather than 2020, volume sales of lamb are up 19.3% in 2021.
In 2021, dollar sales increased 9.6%, and while inflation had an impact, retailers still moved/sold more lamb with volume sales increasing by 1.4% compared to 2020. The average price per pound for lamb rose 8.2%, from $8.25/lb. in 2020 to $8.92/lb. in 2021.
Sales were exceptionally strong during the traditional peak times of the year for lamb – namely Easter and Christmas. U.S. lamb consumers purchased 13.7% more pounds of lamb for Easter than in 2020, creating a 17.8% increase in dollar sales. Christmas demand also caused a surge with consumers purchasing 11.7% more lamb in pounds, a 21% jump in dollars spent. These strong holiday lamb sales helped balance out the inconsistency in lamb purchases over the past 2 years, including a summer 2021 dip.
Preference for cuts of lamb has changed, according to the report. Loins were the most popular just a year ago. But it is the rack (ribeye in this report) that took center stage in 2021, surpassing loin by $1 million in sales. Rack volume sales in 2021 topped 2020 sales by 1 million pounds. Loins experienced the most extreme price hike of any cut with more than a full dollar per pound increase.
2021 Market Sales
The Northeast remains the highest lamb selling region in the U.S. and is likely to stay so, yet the South-Central region saw an explosion of dollar sales, especially at the end of the year. The Baltimore/Washington D.C. area saw a significant increase in lamb popularity with an 8.1% increase in volume sales. The Plains saw the largest percent increase in volume sales of any U.S. region, growing 21.6% between 2020 and 2021. Houston is a growing lamb market with volume sales increasing 14.6% in 2021 compared to 2020 (even as it hit the top mark for price at an average of $9.59/lb.)
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ALB is an industry-funded national research, promotion and information checkoff program that works on behalf of all American producers, feeders, seedstock producers, direct marketers and processors to build awareness and demand for American Lamb. ALB conducts promotion and research programs with the goal of creating greater demand and profitability for the entire industry. One of its long-term goals is to collaborate and communicate with industry partners and stakeholders to expand efforts to grow, promote, improve and support American Lamb.
–American Lamb Board