dollar growth over
the last year for
specialty deli meats.
Grocers are piling on the consumer demand for unique deli meats, stacking their deli depart- ments with more and different varieties to bol- ster sales, according to recent research from New York-based Nielsen. Lunch meats have long been a staple of the American diet and, even at a time of myriad food choices, continue to be popular. Accord- ing to Nielsen’s findings, the lunch meat category has grown to $9 billion in sales, as grocery retailers
revamp their stores to expand perimeters where deli, bakery, produce, meat and seafood are anchored.
While deli meats are still a mainstay, the category is
evolving along with consumers’ tastes and preferences. In
its research on lunch meat, Nielsen identified items that
are meeting shoppers’ desire for convenient, good-tast-
ing, healthy and on-the-go options.
Among those options are specialty deli meats, which
now represent $200 million in sales, per Nielsen’s findings. Dollar growth of specialty deli meats has risen 3.1%
in the last year, with volume growth gaining 2.8%. Within
specialty deli meats, varieties to watch include chorizo, up
15. 7 in dollar sales and 16.4% in volume; pepperoni, up
4.1% in sales and 5% in volume; and salami, up 3.3% in
sales and 2.8% in volume.
Other emerging deli meat favorites feature bold flavors
that resonate with multicultural households, according
to Nielsen. Boldly-flavored lunch meats are outpacing
category growth, with standouts like peppered salami,
rising 21% last year; picante sopressata, up 18%; chorizo,
moving ahead 16%; sweet sopressata, up 5%; and bianco
salami, gaining 4%.
Slightly different from bold flavors but akin to the same
clamor for appetizing options, there has been growth in
uniquely flavored lunch meats. Nielsen’s research cites
gains in chicken teriyaki, rising a whopping 3,222% in
dollar sales in the past year; applewood smoked turkey, up
28.2%; applewood smoked ham rising 17.4%; and cracked
pepper turkey, notching a 10% gain.
Also on the mind of today’s deli meat customer is the
combination of convenience and variety. According to
Nielsen, convenient meat and cheese pairings continue
to see growth, led by mozzarella, basil and prosciutto
pairings, increasing 76.3%; mozzarella and pepperoni, up
30.5%; provolone, piccante and soppressata, rising 29.4%;
and piccante provolone and genoa salami, up 23.9%.
Within the retail deli, other types of lunch meats and
processed meats have experienced an uptick. Meat
snack varieties, for instance, continue to gain momentum. Sales of pepperoni sticks rose 3.9% last year, while
salami sticks sales edged up 3.3% and dry sausage sales
posted 2.5% growth.
Beyond flavor, deli meat buyers have shown an ongoing interest in health and wellness. Nielsen’s research
shows that clean-label claims have demonstrated solid
growth across lunch meat sold at the deli counter. Sales
of products labeled as antibiotic- and hormone-free
jumped 14.5% over the last year, while those labeled free
of artificial flavors were up 7.2% and those claiming all
natural rose 2.4%.
Other research from Nielsen released this year underscores the potential for lunch meats targeted to health-minded consumers. For deli lunch meat, organic is driving 13. 8 growth in dollar sales and 18.5% in volume.
Meanwhile, for packaged lunch meat in the meat section, natural is a key driver, with 13.9% dollar growth and
19.8% volume growth, according to Nielsen.
Cold Cuts Get Hot
Driven by shopper interest in specialty varieties, bold
flavors and convenience, deli meat sales are growing.