ALB releases report and new strategic plan
The American Lamb Board (ALB) released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 report and a new strategic plan on Jan. 19.
The report’s intent is to inform Mandatory Lamb Checkoff stakeholders of its work to mitigate the effects of outside forces and take advantage of opportunities.
ALB is an industry-funded national research, promotion and information checkoff program working on behalf of all American commercial seedstock producers, feeders, direct marketers and processors to build awareness and demand for American lamb.
Funding comes through mandatory assessments paid by all industry segments. The board is appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and represents all industry sectors, geographic regions and sizes of production.
In addition, ALB is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and supported by staff in Denver.
ALB’s budget averages $2.5 million with two-thirds of the budget devoted to American lamb promotion. By law, the boards expenditures for administration are limited to 10 percent less of projected revenues.
“Even though many challenges are out of our control, it’s critical we keep driving forward as hard as we can to promote American lamb and the U.S. sheep industry,” said Peter Camino, ALB chairman from Buffalo, in a Jan. 19 press release. “During this past, tough year, the ALB board worked to support our loyal American lamb retail and foodservice customers and invest in programs and strategies strengthening our long-term competitiveness. Making American lamb the preferred choice of consumers, chefs and retailers is at the core of the American Lamb Checkoff’s promotion, information and research programs.”
According to the report, the 2022 Lamb Summit focused on strategies to improve quality and consistency and opportunities to strengthen the industry, including ways to take advantage of the growing non-traditional marketplace.
Consumer interest in sustainability is becoming mainstream. The first American lamb environmental impact research neared completion in 2022.
In addition, ALB began a project with the University of Wyoming to create a pilot benchmarking system with the goal of helping producers increase their productivity, attract new producers and support domestic sheep production growth.
In 2018, when ALB launched its previous plan, it was built on the Lamb Industry Roadmap, a collaborative effort to improve productivity, product quality, become more competitive and grow the U.S. flock to fulfill supply needs built by consumer demand.
While some exceptional groundwork has been accomplished, there remains much to achieve, challenges to overcome and opportunities to pursue, according to ALB.
The process of the strategic plan looks to evaluate progress made within the last few years as well as analyze data, trends and forecasts; assess industry strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats and develop a plan to establish ALB’s vision, mission, goals, objectives and metrics to track progress.
The 2023-28 plan acknowledges and addresses these industry challenges and opportunities.
It states the following: the COVID-19 pandemic caused huge losses within the industry’s fine dining market but created opportunities for retail sales and at-home consumption.
While U.S. consumers are buying lamb, the domestic flock is dwindling and more product is coming from imports, with a significant price advantage.
The non-traditional market, with demand for smaller carcasses, has grown and cultural preferences are creating new opportunities.
The loss of major lamb processors caused short-term strife, yet smaller processors are emerging and being embraced by a society seeking a more local supply structure.
Consumer interest in sustainability has become more mainstream and part of the purchase decision process.
Overall price inflation, labor challenges and economic downturn created more pressure on the U.S. lamb industry.
ALB’s vision for the future works to provide a unified, thriving American lamb industry concentrating its resources around priorities and a measurable plan fostering profit opportunities for all stakeholders.
The focus now turns to FY 2023 and beyond.
“As the American lamb industry looks to the future, there are several areas for opportunity,” noted Camino.
To embrace these opportunities, ALB has announced a strategic plan for the next five years. The plan looks to increase demand for American lamb by five percent and take five percent market share from lamb imports by the end of 2028.
The strategic plan’s three primary goals are growing consumer demand for American lamb; research, education and innovation to optimize and prioritize research and education efforts to improve product quality and consistency; increase productivity and grow the year-round supply of American lamb and industry services to expand awareness, understanding, engagement and involvement of stakeholders in the American Lamb Checkoff.
ALB’s strategic plan helps the board prioritize programs and align resources with actionable tactics helping to achieve strategic goals.
According to the strategic plan, 52 percent of lamb purchasers are aware of the source of their lamb and 42 percent prefer to buy American lamb.
Under ALB’s marketing strategies, ALB is looking to increase the usage of American lamb through new U.S. markets and channels, increase consumer awareness and familiarity with American lamb as a healthy and sustainable produced protein, develop export market opportunities and increase programming to consumer segments who desire lamb and suppliers to these markets.
ALB looks to study the retail demand index for lamb, retail sales data, menu penetration studies, consumer and influencer usage and attitude studies and look at consumer, trade and media coverage to ensure there is adequate marketing for American lamb.
In ALB’s strategic plan, the board looks to identify and support attainable research, educational opportunities and benchmarking tools to improve quality and productivity and increase the U.S. flock.
In addition, the plan looks to invest in research and education programs enhancing the sustainability of lamb production and engage in key industry stakeholders for input on research needs and distribution of findings.
The plan notes ALB will communicate outcomes of completed research and widely distribute educational materials and support and promote resources, industry events and production practices to encourage increased productivity and domestic production.
The plan also hopes to increase the impact of research by leveraging ALB funding with federal or private resources and encourage new product development addressing consumer needs.
ALB looks to do this through industry engagement in research and educational recommendations, looking at USDA data on U.S. flock numbers and through benchmarking tools.
ALB’s strategic plan looks to utilize appropriate and effective channels to communicate with the industry, including board member trainings and outreach.
ALB will continue to facilitate the lamb industry roundtable to improve communication and collaboration across sections and industry organizations.
In addition, ALB looks to support and create programs encouraging young producers to stay engaged in the industry and serve in leadership roles.
The ALB strategic plan hopes to attain participation in producer education and quality assurance programs encouraging the use of best practices, enhance consumer trust and reflect the industry’s ethical principles, collect and provide factual information on the market analysis and other issues and proactively address adverse topics impacting the industry.
Lastly, through ALB’s industry services goals, ALB looks to offer resources and funding to support local promotional programs extending Lamb Checkoff efforts.
ALB will achieve these goals through industry attitude surveys about the American Lamb Checkoff, industry engagement in American lamb programs, such as Enews subscribers and industry media usage of ALB news and resources.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.