Canadian lamb is a unique product. In order to meet the domestic demand, Canada imports from other nations, and so the price on store shelves reflects that. However, price points go beyond that simplistic formula.
When we shifted our farm towards sheep, a big part of the reason was to stabilize our farm income. Initially we looked at auction results and several other market options in the live lamb market. After eating our own lamb for the first time, we looked at each other, smiled and said, "This is amazing lamb! We should share this with others!" And so we began our journey of direct marketing.
When we sell lamb in a very diversified product line such as we have developed, how do we arrive at our prices? Well, it is complicated. First of all, lamb is not comparable to beef. Not even a little. Secondly, We need to know how much of each product we can get off each lamb. There are only so many pounds of cuts on each lamb. For example, we get 8-11lbs of shishliki off a single lamb (average hanging weight 47lbs). Shishliki is also very labour
intensive to process because we have rigorous standards to ensure a lean and consistent product which we have found lacking in other "brands." We price it accordingly then to ensure we are not selling each lamb at (or below) live lamb prices or what is the point of direct marketing? Processing costs, fuel and shipping costs, and our time and effort to bring delicious lamb in ever-increasing user-friendly ways to our customers, retailers and chefs. Live lamb markets are extremely high right now, so that margin has narrowed. We try to hold our prices steady as best we can, but there comes a point where they need to also fluctuate to respond to market realities.
Obviously, we need our lamb to make us money, and at the same time, we need to offer it at fair prices to our buyers. Looking at what others sell their lamb for and trying to be in their price range; most often our lamb is priced a bit lower. The result though is that we end up with a fair price for our efforts and a more stable income stream which seemingly is a rare thing in today's food/agriculture system.
So what do you get out of this effort? Because our prices are competitive, you get Red Barn Family Farm lamb for nearly the same price as if it were from overseas, or from a feedlot with unknown contributing producers. But importantly, our buyers can rest assured they are getting fresh, high quality, local, sustainably produced lamb on their menu. Along the way, you can also get to know the farmers who raised it. Our favorite part is connecting with you! From start to finish, our lamb is raised on our farm. That is a very unique thing in today's food/agriculture system, despite perceptions and tricky marketing by some. (More on that in another post!)