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Interviews
28/03/2017

'We have revolutionized the traditional image of suckling lamb'

Manel González. Journalist

The second year of the promotional campaign for suckling lamb has come to an end, with "satisfactory" results, according to the Interprofessional Agri-food Organization for Sheep and Goats (INTEROVIC), the group behind it. During the two-year campaign, new, smaller and easier-to-prepare cuts were in the spotlight, putting an end to the downward trend in consumption in recent years and achieving an image as a "modern, appealing" product. A major objective during the third year of the campaign will be to address younger consumers. The head of INTEROVIC, Tomás Rodríguez, tells us more.

Manel González.- INTEROVIC says it obtained good results following the second year of the European campaign to promote lamb consumption. What aspect are you most pleased with?

Tomás Rodríguez.- We are very satisfied overall, but if I had to highlight one aspect, I would say it's definitely our big commitment to revolutionizing the traditional image of suckling lamb, which has been understood, valued and well-received. It was a challenge we knew wouldn't be easy, and today we can confirm that the new cuts and presentations made an impact, especially among our target public during these first two years of the campaign, which was mainly butchers, culinary students, future chefs and those responsible for the meat counters at supermarkets.

I want to highlight also that the formula for getting to know these groups, the training sessions, have been very effective, and we have been rolling out a very innovative campaign that is totally different from the norm. You reap what you sow, and that's leading to favorable changes in consumption trends.

M.G.- What's the most recent data in terms of per capita consumption?

T.R.- INTEROVIC does not have official consumption data. That being said, in the perception surveys we conducted in November, consumers said they were interested in consuming lamb/suckling lamb 20% more than three years ago, when we started doing market studies. We haven't quantified an increase in consumption; however, based on indirect data, such as production in 2016, animals processed, exports of meat and live animals and meat imports, we believe that, provisionally, consumption hasn't declined, with the result that the recurring downward trend of the last decade has changed.

M.G.- You have your sights set on younger consumers. What can suckling lamb offer thirtysomethings?

T.R.- We have! We've been focused on them since the beginning, although we will address them directly this upcoming year. The fact that we have renewed the uses of meat, with cuts that are smaller, more versatile and easier to prepare, has been directed, since the beginning, mainly at small households, people who live alone and, in short, consumers interested in eating lamb during the week for lunch or dinner.

It's very important that thirtysomethings, and also older people who like meat and value both origin and quality, learn about and see the new cuts at points-of-sale. I'm certain that they will buy the product, especially since they're consumers that value the qualities of this type of meat. These formats are quick to prepare, and they cost less than traditional cuts while lending themselves to authentic gourmet recipes.

M.G.- Now that you're entering the third year of the campaign, how do you plan on increasing product visibility?

T.R.- This year we're going to significantly increase our TV appearances. Having completed the work on the farm and having given suckling lamb a new lease on life, and now that it's available at points-of-sale, it's time to focus directly on the consumer.

With that in mind, we're also going to work with leading chefs, who will prepare and recommend recipes with these new cuts. HoReCa is another market segment where we will have a strong presence with a view to reaching those consumers.

M.G.- How is Spanish suckling lamb viewed outside Spain? Where do we currently sell the most?

T.R.- Our meat is highly regarded due to our lamb's exceptional quality and flavor. It's important to note that, due to habits and customs, we produce small lambs, whether they're suckling lambs (about 5 to 7 kilos) or other young lambs raised on milk and grains, which reach an average weight of 11 kilos. That's why the meat is soft, delicate, and highly valued. That's the best way of introducing ourselves and our products.

M.G.- Is New Zealand still our main competitor in national and international markets?

T.R.- New Zealand is one of our many rivals. While it continues to introduce its product, it's the complete opposite of what we produce in Spain, which is a more tender, pink meat with a subtle flavor, since it comes from younger animals which feed on something different than in New Zealand. That's why, in markets that are looking for quality products, Spanish meat is growing year after year.

M.G.- The campaign is focused on lamb, but I suspect that INTEROVIC hasn't forgotten about kid. What are your plans in this regard?

T.R.- At the end of the year we launched our first promotional campaign promoting kid. Goat meat consumption is much more seasonal that lamb consumption. Accordingly, the campaign aims to position kid as a quality product during the Christmas holidays. You can see our campaign at www.nuestrocabrito.com, which reached more than a million consumers at 4,000 points-of-sale.

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