74 JANUARY 2018 WINSIGHT GROCERY BUSINESS
Fridge & Frozen Center Store
or minimally processed meat with the added benefit of
a clean label, is a point of differentiation in an increas-
ingly competitive landscape. “You can buy lunchmeat at
gas stations now,” says Rosacci. “We’re a specialty mar-
ket, so I will always choose quality products with ‘no-ni-
trates-added’ labels first.”
“The trend in claims-based meat is just starting to
crest,” says Neil Dudley of Hamilton, Texas-based Ped-
erson’s Natural Farms, which offers a full range of smoked
and uncured meats that are Certified Humane and made
with no antibiotics or hormones. “No sugar added” is
also on-trend, he says. Pederson’s is rolling out a line of
no-sugar-added deli meats in early 2018. The retailer also
launched its first no-sugar bacon several years ago, and
the product quickly became its No. 1 SKU.
Niman Ranch in Northglenn, Colo., which recently
launched a successful no-sugar-added bacon line, is
repackaging its sausages to call out “no-sugar-added”
on the label. “We have the no-sugar-added clearly
marked,” says Smoke. “We’re also calling out gluten- and
Today’s consumers have become avid label
readers, and when it comes to meat
products, they are not only curious
about how they are made, but also
how the animals are raised. “Peo-
ple really care about animal wel-
fare,” says Kerri McClimen, direc-
tor of communications for Niman
Ranch, which is preparing to launch
the nation’s first Certified Humane
While demand for smoked and processed
meats with labels indicating “uncured,”
“nitrate free” and “no nitrates added” is
on the rise, so too is consumer confusion
surrounding the meaning of these terms.
“Smoked and processed meats can be a very
confusing category,” says Rosacci, who finds that cus-
tomers are increasingly looking for products that are
free of preservatives without understanding that these
meats need to be preserved to be safe for consumption.
“Nitrate-free” and “uncured” indicate a product is
sodium nitrate-free, but it still contains natural nitrates
from salt or celery powder.
“I’m in the business and I think it’s confusing,” admits
Dudley of Pederson’s. “How is the consumer going to
find their way?” Dudley recommends label reading for
consumers and educational demos for grocers. “Look at
the nutritionals—that’s a piece of the puzzle that is pretty
black and white.”
Pederson’s is expanding its team of approximately 10
product ambassadors in its major markets. The team is
available to conduct in-store educational demos or meet
with department heads on the ins and outs of natural
smoked and processed meats.
“There is absolutely the continued need for aggressive
education when it comes to claims, specifically attached
to meat products,” says Schmansky. A survey conducted
by Nielsen earlier this year revealed that consumers’
understanding of claim definitions varied.
From sweet to savory dishes and snacking in between,
bacon is one of America’s favorite foods any time of day.
Clean proteins are very
popular, and products that
are 99% fat-free or similar
are making up a great deal
of sales.” —Jason Pride, Hy-Vee
Trendspotting With Jason Pride
VP of Meat & Seafood for Hy-Vee Inc.
What are today’s top trends in smoked and processed meats
for 2018 from a retailer’s perspective? Jason Pride, VP of meat
and seafood for the West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee,
which operates 240 stores in the Midwest, shares his views.
What are the top-trending processed/smoked meat products at
Hy-Vee, and to what do you attribute their increasing popularity?
Pride: All-natural, antibiotic-free processed meats are growing
and on-trend. Uncured meats are also on the rise.
What role does convenience play? Do you see increased
demand for items customers can eat on the go?
Resealable packages of cold cuts make it especially easy for the
consumer. Protein snack packs are growing very fast and are
perfect for on the go. Snacking is the largest growth area.
Are you seeing a rise in demand for leaner sources of protein?
Is this trend influencing purchases of smoked and processed
Lean proteins are very popular, and products that are 99% fat-free
or similar are making up a great deal of sales.
How are today’s smoked and processed meat trends shaping
this category’s merchandising landscape?
Antibiotic-free, uncured, low-sodium and nitrate-free products are
more prevalent than ever. These items are abundant enough that
many are now merchandised together as a category.