eeting the demand for convenience, satisfying snacking, plenty of protein and increasingly clean and claims-based labels: Smoked
and processed meats are firing on all cylinders when it comes to today’s top food trends, and the
result is revved-up revenue.
Sales of lunchmeat are no baloney—exceeding $9 billion in the past year, according to Nielsen Fresh. Leading
the lunchmeat category growth are specialty deli meats,
such as chorizo, pepperoni and salami, which represent
$200 million in sales, finds Nielsen. The popularity of
restaurant charcuterie boards has found its way home,
with consumers entertaining with everything from prosciutto to soppressata and Genoa salami.
Bold and unique flavors, products with fewer ingredi-
ents, and convenience and snack offerings are also fuel-
ing category growth, according to the analytics experts
at Nielsen and grocers around the country. “We’re time-
starved; we need on-the-go options, and our palates are
getting more advanced,” says Sarah Schmansky, director
for Nielsen Fresh.
When Tony’s Meats & Market, a specialty grocer with
three locations in the Denver area, expanded its conveniently presliced salamis, prosciutto and other high-end
meats, the offerings were an instant hit. “We’ve increased
our sales,” says Corporate Chef and VP Mick Rosacci.
“While some customers still order at the deli counter,
we’re seeing fewer folks who want to wait. Now, it’s ‘Give
me my meat, and I’m gone,’” he says. To better meet the
needs of this changing customer, Tony’s is adding more
SKUs to its presliced case this month.
Robust tastes are also resonating with Tony’s shoppers.
“Big flavors are really important for us,” says Rosacci,
who points to smoked meats with chili flavors such as
jalapeno and habanero, Italian herb- and garlic-seasoned
meats, and Asian and Tuscan-style turkey breast.
“Bold flavors are rising to the top as a result of the
increased multicultural influence happening in today’s
environment,” says Schmansky. “This influence spans
well beyond deli meat across all of fresh.”
“Consumers are developing a more adventurous pal-
ate, and they crave foods that challenge their taste buds,”
says Ron Godshall, COO of Godshall’s Quality Meats in
Telford, Pa. “One of the things we are perfecting in our
new R&D center is blending cutting-edge flavors with the
proteins that highlight them.”
Appealing to today’s more sophisticated eaters, God-
shall’s is now calling out specific flavors and ingredients
in its product labeling. What was once “hot” is now haba-
nero, chipotle and ghost pepper. “Sweet” is now pineap-
ple, maple or bourbon brown sugar. Godshall’s minimally
processed, no-nitrates-added Artisan Butcher Turkey
Bites offer exotic flavor combos such as Mango Sriracha,
Korean BBQ and Teriyaki Pineapple. “The result is a
more moist, explosively flavorful variant on jerky that’s
still shelf-stable to bring on your next adventure,” says
While flavor, quality and convenience are key, at Tony’s
the No. 1 trend in smoked and processed meats are products that are “uncured” or “no-nitrates-added.” They are
claims that speak to the increasingly health-conscious
“People instantly gravitate to it,” Rosacci says.
“Folks have become very sensitive to the ingredients in
their food, and customers jump on products with ‘no-
nitrates-added’ on the label.”
For Tony’s, selling a higher-quality, real wood-smoked
Fridge & Frozen
Hot Trends in Cold Cuts
and Smoked Meats
From uncured to bold flavors and snack packs, processed meat
products are meeting consumer demand for a broader range of
tastes and eating occasions. By Lynn Fulbright
Sales of lunchmeat
exceeded $9 billion
in the last year.
Source: Nielsen Fresh