Building a High Value Market for the Whole Lamb
James Anderson of Shreve, OH and three other area sheep ranchers received a SARE grant to increase the sales of “the whole lamb”. Before receiving this grant they worked together in an attempt to market lambs through high-end grocery and meat markets within a forty-mile radius of their farms. While many of the stores agreed to sell the primary cuts, the ranchers were left with the rest of the unwanted lamb. Their goal through this project was to increase their flock size and to develop a market for the new products that they created.
The project carried out two parts. The first included Lamb, the Tastiest Meal; with a focus on increasing the sale of the whole lamb through local restaurants and meat markets. The second part consisted of the Let’s Cook Lamb Recipe and Cooking Contest which was an attempt to familiarize chefs with new ways to prepare the whole lamb through a statewide contest for schools with a culinary arts program.
They talked with many local and area chefs and offered incentives such as help in developing recipes, a discount on lamb for the month is purchased through the local supplier who was selling their lamb, a cooking school taught by the best lamb chefs in the area, and free promotions for the restaurants in the local newspapers.
“If you want restaurants to feature fresh lamb on the menus you must make their chefs feel comfortable with preparing lamb,” was some of the advice that they received from culinary arts students. With this suggestion they decided to host a cook-off, after a few set backs were able to complete a successful cook-off at Wayne County Schools Career Center Culinary Arts Facility.
Even though they encountered a few obstacles throughout the grant process they were satisfied with their results. “We believe that the project did have a beneficial result, that both parts of the effort were very successful, and that the consumption of lamb in the local area will continue at a higher level because of our efforts.”