Getting lamb on the menu

Promoting the consumption of lamb in the USA would have a profound effect on the global lamb market, says B+LNZ farmer director Phil Smith, who recently mentored the Tri-Lamb Young Leaders group.
Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Mentoring young leaders

It has been a busy couple of months, but a highlight was travelling through Australia and New Zealand with the Tri-Lamb Young Leaders group. 

I was fortunate to be mentoring this group of dynamic, young people who represented the member nations of the Tri Lamb Group; the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

What is Tri-Lamb?

Set-up in 2003, Tri Lamb aims to encourage the consumption of lamb in the USA. Per-capita lamb consumption in North America is only 0.7/lb per year, while beef is around 56lbs, pork 50lbs and chicken 91.5lb.

This low consumption of lamb is thought to be a throw-back to World War 2, when the American troops were fed canned mutton. This put an entire generation off eating sheepmeat and subsequent generations were not encouraged to eat lamb. 

But now, as these young leaders emphasised, it is the new millennials, the under 36 year olds, who are willing to try new foods and eating experiences.

Promoting lamb consumption

To target this cohort, we need to promote lamb through social media and encourage the use of lamb products in takeaways or street food.

The new millennials represent 35% of the population so lifting lamb consumption amongst this group would have a profound effect on the global lamb market. With a population of 325 million people, doubling per capita lamb consumption would put pressure on lamb supplies.

At present 37% of the lamb consumed in the US is produced domestically, 37% comes from Australia and 15% comes from NZ.

Outstanding ambassadors

The Tri-Leaders Young Leaders group were outstanding ambassadors for their respective countries and it was a real privilege to spend time with them.

Kurt Portas, who manages Palliser Ridge Station in South Wairarapa and Tumoana Harrison-Boyd, who is studying agriculture at Lincoln University, represented this country’s sheep industry group and they certainly did us proud. 

Lamb given preference over cattle

In early September I visited the Chatham Islands. Over the past two years, they have been experiencing similar weather patterns to North Canterbury, so feed supplies have been tight. A major problem with the shipping of livestock has added to the pressure on feed.

Last year two shipping companies were servicing the Islands. One ceased operation leaving the Chatham Islands Trust ship as the sole provider. This boat has had a number of mechanical problems so there is now a huge backlog of stock to be moved to the mainland. 

Lambs, about to cut their two teeth, are being given preference over cattle.

I was accompanied by farm consultant Jansen Travis, soil scientist Robert McBride and risk advisor Ben Anderson, who delivered a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farm Safety Management System workshop. The farmers were thankful for the support they are receiving from BLNZ.

Phil Smith is Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Northern South Island farmer director.