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Photo: Chad Hurst/Getty Images for Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc.

A hearty list of fast food companies are tailoring their menus with lamb options to rope in Millennial and Generation Z customers with more adventurous tastes.

The big picture: On its face, the marketing ploy doesn't make sense — lamb has never made it big for Americans; only half of Americans have ever even tried it, and lamb consumption in the U.S. has been declining, per Bloomberg.

The list: Arby's, Potbelly, Darden Restaurants Inc.’s Yard House brewery, Romacorp Inc., and Black Angus Steakhouse, writes Bloomberg.

Between the lines: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS), the American Lamb Board, and the American Sheep Industry Association (which aim to build demand and profits for the sheep industry, respectively), have been working over the last 15 years collectively to return the industry to profitability.

  • That includes running cooking workshops, farm and ranch tours, restaurant promotions, coordinating with chefs to promote lamb dishes, working on evening out seasonality differences in lamb production and market volatility, and promoting U.S. lamb (as opposed to New Zealand or Australian lamb), the Executive Director of the board, Megan Wortman, tells Axios.
  • "We know it's not a hard sell once people can taste the great flavor," she says.

The surprise: Wortman says that she "never" expected to see a lamb comeback.

  • "There’s an intimidation factor because we’re more expensive," Wortman notes. One of the biggest hurdles she sees is that people are getting comfortable eating lamb out, but not at home.
  • The age gap: That's especially a factor for millennials. According to a 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, millennials "have a stronger preference for eating out" than older generations, making their outsize influence on the fast food industry even stronger.
  • Millennials are the largest generation. They, along with Gen Z-ers, will drive market decisions for the fast food industry.

Be smart: Even though lamb is making a splash on fast food menus, "that doesn’t necessarily translate into sales," Wortman said. "We just wish Arby’s would call it lamb instead of gyros. Our biggest barrier without a doubt is just sheer lack of awareness and experience."

Go deeper

53 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.