How can I move cuts of lamb that aren’t selling?

Answer: Successfully selling cuts of meat that don’t easily move is often the key to a flourishing meat business. Typically, the most profitable way to market your lamb is in the form of wholes, halves, or bundles. However, if you are direct marketing a large number of lambs, this may not be possible. Hence, individual cuts will likely be the majority of your sales.

Some beginning lamb-entrepreneur businesses start their sales operations with the guaranteed sale of a certain amount of racks or chops, coupled with the enthusiastic hope that they can sell the rest of the cuts. This is not a good idea. You want to have a plan. In a typical lamb, one-half of the boxed product is comprised of leg and shoulder. These cuts comprise the majority of the lamb, yet are often the hardest to sell, resulting in quite a conundrum: one that has stymied its share of start-up lamb businesses.

A strategy is essential. Farmers markets are terrific places to note changing customer trends and preferences. Consumers are influenced by all kinds of advertising, chef cooking shows on television, and YouTube gourmets. Ask your customers how they prepare what they eat. Be flexible in what you have to offer. Transform your least-desirable cuts into another form that will sell better. For example, lamb shoulders can be made into rolled roasts, shoulder steaks, ground lamb, or kabobs. Which will sell best this year? It’s a guessing game, but you can influence the outcome by offering different modes of the same cut and ways to use them. This can reduce the amount of unsold meat in your freezer.

One great way to boost sales is to offer recipes. You can find many innovative and easy recipes at websites such as American Lamb Board or Pinterest and share them with your customers so they can imagine the finished meal. Marinades can often turn a lesser quality piece of meat into a delicious dish. Customers enjoy being creative, especially when you show them how.

Pricing to promote the sale of lesser cuts also works well. In this strategy, pricing of high-demand cuts is elevated enough to buffer lower price points for lesser cuts in order to encourage sales. Figuring out a decent return requires the use of a spreadsheet or cut-yield calculator to determine your net income with various cut yields and pricing. You also need to employ market savvy. This savvy is gained by understanding the price customers will gladly pay and the point where they start resisting. Farmers markets are excellent testing grounds for determining price pressure points. A good marketer floats a price, notes the response, and then adapts.

It is critical to succeed in marketing lesser-demand cuts at a price that guarantees profitability. Frozen meat only stays fresh for several months before quality begins to erode. Unmarketed cuts are a drag on your bottom line and a recipe for an unprofitable business. Have a workable plan.

Get more information in the ATTRA publication Direct Marketing Lamb: A Pathway. This publication describes an alternative to marketing lamb other than as a commodity, and capturing the economic benefits. Successful marketing techniques are described, beginning with the finished lamb and continuing through the processing, pricing, and sale of whole and boxed lamb to today’s eager local foods customer.

In addition, the Livestock section of the ATTRA website includes a host of useful lamb production resources.