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Aussie Select Cuts: development and testing new lamb US deli products and insights (Meat Tender)

$7.7 billion/year is spent by US consumers on deli meats. Deli sales numbers are expected to continue, with 80%+ of grocery leaders anticipating additional growth.

Publication date: 13 April 2022
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb
Relevant regions: Southern Australia, Northern Australia, National, NSW, Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Eastern Australia
Download Report (1.6 MB)


$7.7 billion/year is spent by US consumers on deli meats. Deli sales are expected to continue, with 80%+ of grocery leaders anticipating additional growth. Growth in past three years of consumers buying ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat foods weekly has increased 154%. Despite the size of this sector, there are no lamb-based products offered. Yet, lamb, particularly lamb from Australia, meets the needs of today’s consumer.

2/3 of shoppers look for ‘healthy’ options when buying meat. Lack of change and expansion in product assortment are consistent complaints.

88% of shoppers want to see more new items and flavors in retail. When shoppers do see something new, sales pop.

Consumers are interested in seeing the deli featuring organic, non-GMO, and other mega trend-inspired foods

Consumers increasingly want to express themselves and experiment with food, but these consumers also report time constraints.

Clearly, there is a market to help the deli and meat portfolio capture more growth and profit.

To date, US lamb has been sold primarily fresh or frozen, which research shows can be a barrier to consumers who are pressed for cooking time and have little preparation confidence. As the #1 provider of lamb to the US market, the Australian industry has a massive opportunity to break into this market as the first to market ready-to-eat lamb products, Aussie Select presents a line well-positioned to meet consumer needs and capitalise on current buying and dining trends in both retail and foodservice segments.


Aussie Select fully developed an initial line of hand-crafted, modern charcuterie meats. The initial range of products includes Tikka Masala Lamb Ham, Agave Rosemary Lamb Ham and Lamb Pastrami. These products were tested and approved by the USDA for sale in the US with a 120-day shelf life unopened (compared to 60-day estimate from production sample testing).

Aussie Select has been validated through consumer research with high interest. Further, among industry the products rated highly among consumers and retail/foodservice operators.

• 94% Top Two Box Purchase Interest Score1

• 86% Top Two Box Uniqueness Score2

Business case, economic model, and business plan to scale up have been successfully completed with pre-commercialization activities currently ramping up. However, manufacturing/processing is a huge challenge in the US market given the “novelty” of the product and lack of familiarity with further processing of lamb. Limited-to-no availability of line time also depresses viable options for co-manufacturing and drives cost up. However, overall finished goods costs can be reduced significantly (a current hurdle with potential customers) with better production options.

Key findings

The Aussie Select line of all-natural, ready-to-eat/ready-to-heat, pasture-raised Australian lamb meets the demands of today’s consumers for health & wellness, sustainability, and flavorful food offerings.

Retailers will be seeking to drive post-COVID growth through premium innovations. The initial products in the Aussie Select line only scratch the surface; there is exciting growth opportunity for lamb in the ready-to-heat, ready-to-eat and snack-kit categories.

There is no slowing the desire for products that provide maximum convenience without sacrificing taste or quality. Today’s consumers may be time-constrained, but they are still open to experimentation.

Benefits to industry

Aussie Select is a significant solution to penetrate the US market to drive awareness, interest and preference of Aussie lamb. The brand is a clear call out to its Australia Country of Origin and includes True Aussie Lamb branding prominently on the front of label.

Beyond branding, current tonnage projections to meet the demand for Aussie Select shows a potential for over 3,700,000 pounds of Australian raw product over the next five years.

Aussie Select will introduce a new market to Australian lamb, opening up new occasions, new users, and new innovations beyond the deli.

MLA action

Final version of the final report to be published on the MLA website.

Future research

For more information

Contact Project Manager: John Marten