Updated Jun 9, 2018

The big picture: How fast food is pandering to the youths

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

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.6 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,900 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,498,849 — Total deaths: 346,306 — Total recoveries — 2,233,180Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,662,768 — Total deaths: 98,223 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

LATAM Airlines files for U.S. chapter 11 bankruptcy

A LATAM air attendant aboard one of the company's planes in March. Photo: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

LATAM Airlines Group SA said in a statement early Tuesday the firm and its affiliates in in the United States, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

Why it matters: Latam is Latin America's largest airline and its shareholders include Delta Air Lines. CEO Roberto Alvo noted in the statement the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the airline industry.