Ag economists say lamb producers can't expect a return to prices over $2 per pound anytime soon. Currently, the price is barely over $1 per pound live weight. Part of the problem is that lamb is an expensive meat, and only appeals to a certain market, they say.
The ag economists also note that there is still the stigma of what passed for lamb decades ago. Known as mutton, it did not have the texture or distinctive flavor of young lamb served in various dishes today.
Keegan Poe, Franklin, is one person trying to change that viewpoint. He markets freezer beef raised on his own farm, and pork and lamb raised on the family farm to local customers. Recently, his lamb was used in a couple of dishes prepared for Dig In, a food and wine-tasting festival held at the White River State Park each August. Visitors pay $40 each to enter and try samples of dishes cooked by some of the area's best chefs.
Poe's lamb was prepared two ways – one in a reuben sandwich and one as barbecued lamb meat balls. Judging by the reaction from those leaving the line serving the lamb reuben, it was one of the hits of the day. The meatballs were good, people reported, but some were slightly charred on one side as the chef had trouble regulating the grill.
The reubens had good flavor, and featured lamb in an unusual setting. People who said they normally don't eat lamb liked the reuben preparation. Some wrote down the name of the restaurant that fixed it so they could visit on their own.
Lamb chops are also a delicacy and are served in some of the better restaurants around Indiana. Because they are relatively small compared to pork chops and usually served as a pair, the price is often somewhat salty. Higher prices for lamb cuts will keep live lamb prices from recovering anytime soon, even if more people do discover and like the taste, the ag economists conclude.