Lamb Board’s Direct Marketing Study Aimed at Helping Industry Understand Growing Sector

Lamb Board’s Direct Marketing Study Aimed at Helping Industry Understand Growing Sector

Producers in each region of the country have gotten more innovative and even more ingenious in marketing their lambs, a study commissioned by the American Lamb Board has revealed.

Still, there is need for greater support and education to help producers who direct market their lamb succeed.
The purpose of the direct marketing study was to better understand direct and non-traditional lamb marketing and to assess the needs of what has become a growing sector in the industry, ALB board member Betty Sampsel of Montana, explained. 

“The results of the study will help the Lamb Board build and develop a set of relevant tools,” said Sampsel.
ALB defines a direct marketer as an individual who owns and cares for his or her lambs from birth through harvesting and personally markets them directly to the end customer –restaurants, retailers, consumers at farmers markets or on-farm sales. As part of the direct marketing study, a survey was distributed this past winter via ALB, ASI, commercial industry partners and various websites. More than 800 direct marketers responded, accounting for 50,000 lambs. 

Those numbers were extraordinary, noted Joanne Evans, who, along with Laurie Hubbard, was hired by ALB as consultants to conduct the survey and assess direct marketers needs. To gather more information and to put a face on real life producers who had participated in the survey, Evans and Hubbard  visited operations in about 20 states.

“By seeing the operations and interviewing the producers, we were able to dig down a little deeper and get a better understanding of the situations in different parts of the country,” said Evans. “What we learned is that people are really being ingenious. They are making their own paths in order to sell their products. It’s encouraging.”

Recommendations from the survey include designating and ALB staff person to work with direct marketers as a resource.

Producer education was also a recommendation. Among the education topics: marketing media, management prior to harvesting, determining finish on live lambs, carcass breaking, stress reduction/meat quality and techniques to minimize shrink.

In an effort to keep the industry informed of the implementation of the direct marketing program, the Sheep Industry News will feature a monthly Direct Marketers column starting with the September issue. The regular piece will detail success stories and available resources.  
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