SOUTH SYDNEY, Australia – Since more Australian consumers are perceiving lamb as becoming more expensive, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has responded by introducing new programs designed to raise awareness of the range of affordable cuts for consumers and foodservice operators.

Lamb has international appeal. Outside of Australia, consumers use lamb neck to make a moussaka or a lamb shoulder for an aromatic lamb pasanda. Locally, the popularity of non-loin cuts such as lamb shoulder, neck and rump is gaining momentum with two new initiatives from MLA designed to keep lamb on the table at homes and in restaurants in spite of increasing prices.

To inspire Australian butchers and chefs to venture beyond lamb backstrap and cutlets to other equally tasty, less expensive cuts, MLA is touting global flavors through MLA's Lamb Masterpieces and 'Racking Up Your Profits' programs. Lamb Masterpieces is rolling out to chefs throughout Australia, educating the foodservice industry on getting the best cooking outcomes from less-expensive lamb cuts.

Because lamb prices are steady, now is the time to educate and inspire chefs, butchers and consumers on how to use less-expensive lamb cuts, said Glen Feist, MLA general manager marketing.

"We want to inspire people with ideas from around the world where they are great at turning less-expensive cuts – such as shoulder, neck, rump, mince and ribs – into delicious meals," Feist said. "Most Australians are hesitant about cooking cuts they are unfamiliar with, like lamb shoulder and rump, preferring to cook tried-and-true traditional Australian favorites, such as lamb legs, chops and cutlets. They are generally unaware of what can be created from the less-expensive non-loin cuts.”

Lamb Masterpieces and Racking Up Your Profits are a great step in educating chefs and butchers that cuts such as neck can make a delicious lamb ragu or lamb mousakka at an affordable price, he added.

"We are targeting chefs and retailers initially, as we know consumer home-cooking habits are influenced by what they eat when they're out and what they can buy at their local butcher or supermarket,” Feist said. “We hope the program will continue the success of previous MLA foodservice marketing initiatives, such as those that helped promote the lamb shank -- a cut once known by many as a bone for the dog – to a popular lamb cut at foodservice and now at home. As these cuts and meals become more popular and widely available at foodservice and retail, we will ramp up our consumer marketing efforts accordingly.”

"Chefs, butchers and consumers need to be reminded that lamb doesn't need to be saved for a special occasion. There is a wide range of cuts that can be turned into fantastic meals to suit different tastes, occasions and budgets," Feist concluded.