Operators advised to put lamb on specials menu this Easter

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Menu changes: many chefs have started using lamb rump instead of a rack of lamb to help keep it at an affordable price (image: Getty/StockNinja)
Menu changes: many chefs have started using lamb rump instead of a rack of lamb to help keep it at an affordable price (image: Getty/StockNinja)

Related tags Food Finance

With the cost of lamb high as a result of strong demand from across the globe and UK production reduced, one purchasing expert has urged operators to remove lamb from the main menu and offer it on the specials board instead.

This can mean guests will view lamb as a premium treat this Easter and can trade up for the occasion.

Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson said: “Lamb prices are generally high due to strong global demand.

“Australia and New Zealand, which have traditionally supplied significant amounts of lamb to the UK, have now opened up new markets, in Asia in particular.

“UK suppliers had cut back production last year due to higher costs and even though they can now get better prices, it takes time to increase the number of lambs being reared."

Premium item

She added: “That already makes lamb a premium menu item for pubs and of course, demand increases sharply at Easter.

“The supermarkets tie up much of the supply of lamb joints such as legs and shoulders available from UK suppliers, in order to meet demand ahead of the bank holiday weekend so limited availability means pubs are paying higher prices.

“Ironically, pubs have also done too good a job over recent years of popularising lamb shanks. It was traditionally a less popular cut that could be slow cooked as a good value option for pubs but there is now increased competition from supermarkets, which include lamb in their ‘gastropub’ and similarly named ranges.”

Dobson added that something similar has happened with lamb rump, which was traditionally a better value cut than a rack of lamb, which was seen as the pinnacle.

This meant chefs started using rump as a way of keeping lamb on the menu at an affordable price.

Fashionable cut

She said: “As a result, rump has become a more fashionable cut and this increased demand has pushed up the price.

“All of which means pubs are competing for available supplies of lamb on several fronts and on a Sunday roast or Easter menu, lamb is likely to look like an expensive choice compared to chicken, pork and even beef.

“Our advice is to take lamb off the main menu and put it on the specials board, where diners will see it as a premium treat and can decide if they want to trade up for an occasion such as an Easter meal with the family.”

Meanwhile, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which is the levy board representing farmers, growers and others in the supply chain, predicted production of lamb is expected to decline by about 1% for this year, following the contraction in the breeding flock and limited lamb crop expansion.

When compared to 2023, consumption is expected to drop by 2% as a result of eating out levels being below where they were pre-Covid and while retail volume suffer from the cost-of-living crisis.

While imports are forecast to grow (up about 4% from last year), as lower priced product from New Zealand and Australia drives volume growth. However, exports are expected to fall by 1%, in line with lower domestic production.

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