here are over 70 million sheep and goats in the European Union (85% sheep and 15% goats), often kept in economically vulnerable areas such as mountain regions. Heavy lambs (those over 13kg) are produced in Ireland, light lambs are reared in southern regions like Greece and Italy whereas Spanish and French production is mixed. Main goat producers are Greece, Spain, France and Romania. The EU backs its farmers through income support payments.
Imports account for 20% of the EU’s consumption of lamb, mutton and goatmeat. New Zealand is the EU’s biggest supplier, accounting for about 80% of imports, followed by Australia and Mercosur countries. EU exports are around 10% of its total production, and where live sheep are traded mostly to the Middle East and North Africa, sheep meat is predominantly shipped to the Far East.
Lamb is the most expensive of the three types and in recent decades sheep meat is increasingly only retailed as “lamb”, sometimes stretching the accepted distinctions given above. The stronger-tasting mutton is now hard to find in many areas, despite the efforts of the Mutton Renaissance Campaign in the UK. In Australia, the term prime lamb is often used to refer to lambs raised for meat Other languages, for example French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic, make similar or even more detailed distinctions among sheep meats by age and sometimes by sex and diet—for example, lechazo in Spanish refers to meat from milk-fed (unweaned) lambs.
Sheepmeat and goatmeat are covered by the common market organisation. Therefore, the EU may decide to grant private storage aid and also has the power to use exceptional market support measures when specific circumstances mean that public support is required, for example, in cases of animal diseases or a loss of consumer confidence. Mutton is meat from a sheep that is older than 1 year, ideally 3 years old. It is an intense red color and contains a considerable amount of fat. Its flavor is very strong, and you might have to acquire the taste before being able to enjoy a meal of mutton if you’re an American.
Mutton is much more popular in the Middle East and Europe than in the United States. The gamey flavor of mutton does tend to appeal more to people who also enjoy other game meats such as deer, wild boar, and rabbit.
The lamb shoulder cut is excellent for slow cooking and braising methods. The bone adds richness, flavor and nutrients. This is an economical cut preferred by many restaurants. 100% grass fed.