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On the lamb: a consistent lamb program can help boost a retailer's bottom line.

ONE OF THE BEST TASTING PROTEINS IS SOMETIMES THE HARDEST ONE to find at your local supermarket. Lamb has one of the most unique flavor profiles of all the products sold in the meat case. Yet it can be hard to find at most retailers across the U.S. In fact, lamb only has 0.8 percent share of the meat dollar sales nationwide.

The culprit for the lack of sales may be a lack of consumer familiarity, as many shoppers do not know how to prepare lamb, and the retail prices are just high enough to keep them from experimenting. On average lamb is only advertised in two percent of the ads across the U.S. As consumers increasingly desire more global flavors and new culinary experiences, retailers need to do a better job promoting lamb throughout the year and not just during holidays. On average, a retail chain publishes 23 lamb ads per year compared to 527 beef ads per year. Less than two-thirds advertised lamb over the last 12 months.

An important question may be: Why do you want the lamb consumer in your store? According to ECRM, for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 3, the average dollar basket size containing fresh lamb was $86.02, while the average basket size that contained a product from the meat department was $60.73.

With the high cost of beef, promoting lamb once a week on an inside ad block could give you more bang for your buck and bring the lamb category back to life.

Retailers should do a deep dive in the lamb category and take a look at their product variety, pricing, packaging, plan-o-grams and promotional schedule.

There are a lot of product choices that offer differentiation in the lamb category including American lamb, imported lamb, organic, ABF or conventional. The main thing is to have the items your customers want and that the products are in line with your company's values.

One of the key factors for success in the lamb category is consistency. Consumers should be able to go into their local supermarket and find the same products seven days a week, 365 days a year. With the new packaging technology that is available to extend shelf life, this is more doable than ever. In fact, most suppliers today offer a large variety of packaging options (MAP, Roll-Stock, Dar-fresh and Skin-pack) that can give retailers a 21- to 28-day shelf life. This can eliminate shrink in this category and will drive more sales.

To make an impact, retailers need to make sure these products are in stock and on the shelf at all of their stores, every week. If you are trying to increase your customer counts and bring them back to this category on a weekly basis you should have this section of the case on a plan-o-gram. This will make the category easier for consumers to shop on a weekly basis and grow year-over-year sales.

If you are looking to jump start your lamb program, you need to be aggressive with pricing and be willing to give up a little bit of your margin. It does not matter if it is imported or domestic lamb, aggressive pricing will help bring consumers back to the category consistently enough to drive week over week sales increases.

Use store-advertising platforms to help bring in new consumers to the category with easy to follow recipes and weekly specials. Loin, rib and shoulder chops are your main drivers for weekly ads but do not be afraid to rotate in new items to keep your customers trying new things. Boneless legs, seasoned boneless lamb roast, lamb stew meat and ground lamb are great items to offer with easy recipes that will attract and excite new consumers to the lamb category.

Store execution is one of the keys to successfully making the lamb category a destination point for your stores. Make sure messages are consistently delivered down through your stores and that all associates understand the end goal. Inspire and encourage them with sales contests and other rewards to acknowledge significant sales increases.

By sharing the inspirational culinary adventure offered by lamb, retailers can truly bring the category back to life with the "best kept secret" in the meat case.

Brian Diffenderfer is global business development director, meat & seafood, for Daymon Worldwide. He can be reached at
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Title Annotation:FOOD FORUM
Author:Diffenderfer, Brian
Publication:Grocery Headquarters
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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