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Why Grocers Are Charging Into Charcuterie

Meeting consumer demand for portable, protein-rich snacking
Photograph: Shutterstock

Specialty charcuterie-inspired snacks are resonating at retail like never before as consumers continue to seek convenience, nutrition and indulgence from grab-and-go products.

Robust sales gains confirm the category’s appeal. Sales of “charcuterie types of packaged lunch meats” reached $561 million in January 2019, up 8.1% vs. a year ago, and sales of “charcuterie types of packaged meat snacks/meals” were up 6.5% for $378 million in the same time period, according to Chicago-based IRI. And the total charcuterie category of both packaged lunch meats and snacks reached $1.4 billion, an increase of 5.3% vs. the previous year. 

Grocers from coast to coast are spotlighting the category with enhanced and multiple displays in-store, featuring a bevy of grab-and-go sliced meats, as well as snacks and kits.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway has introduced stand-alone charcuterie displays in some of its delis. At a Denver store, Dietz & Watson Landjaeger Swiss Style Snack Sticks are merchandised alongside Columbus Craft Meats’ Charcuterie Sampler and Charcuterie Trio; Albertsons’ (parent company of Safeway) private label Open Nature Uncured Hot Italian Salami; and Busseto Foods’ Dry Salami Nuggets.

Mariano’s in the Chicago area offers shoppers an abundance of access points for charcuterie-style grab-and-go snacking. Its designated grab-and-go section showcases store brand Snack Packs made with crackers, cheese, meat and grapes, as well as options from Hormel, including Hormel Gatherings Hard Salami & Pepperoni Party Trays.

In Mariano’s deli, shoppers can find more portable charcuterie options, including Dietz & Watson’s Originals Pepperoni Charcuterie Bites and its Sweet Sopressata, Genoa Salami and Chorizo Medallions—all of which have labels calling out 8 grams of protein and no antibiotics ever. Mariano’s cheese department also delivers with a variety of presliced cured meats on display.

And at Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets, shoppers are spoiled for choice with grab-and-go Olli Salumeria’s Snack Packs in a variety of styles; Creminelli Fine Meats’ assorted charcuterie and cheese combo packs made with 100% U.S. heritage pork (with no added nitrates and no antibiotics ever); and Volpi Foods’ Roltini Singles. Each item is merchandised in one convenient grab-and-go area.

The Rise of ‘Super Snackers’ 

Snacking continues to be a way of life for Americans, with snacking frequency on the rise. In its U.S. Snacking Motivations and Attitudes report from January 2019, Mintel found that 95% of U.S. adults snack daily, and 70% do so more than twice a day. Mintel further notes that the percentage of “super snackers”—those who snack more than four times a day—is also increasing.

“Consumers want indulgence and health, sometimes at the same time, meaning brands that can provide a hint of both or ways to tap into both mood states can flourish,” says Beth Bloom, an analyst for Chicago-based Mintel.

Stephen Docherty, sales and marketing coordinator for Fiorucci Foods in Colonial Heights, Va., agrees. “We believe one of the top trends in specialty grab-and-go is that consumers are not only looking for something quick and easy but a snack that can be both indulgent and nutritious.”

One of the company’s newest items, Fiorucci All Natural Appetaggios, features individual strips of peach or cranberry mozzarella that are hand wrapped with a slice of aged prosciutto or hard salami. The fruit flavors infuse sweetness into the mozzarella, and the smoky meat completes the one-of-a-kind snack combination.
“These items meet the key consumer need for 100% natural products that contain vegetarian-fed pork and are free from antibiotics, nitrates and nitrites,” says Docherty.

Have Charcuterie, Will Travel 

The newest products from Olli Salumeria, an artisanal slow-cured fine meats supplier in Oceanside, Calif., are designed to make specialty snacking a part of everyday life, as well as occasions such as hiking, cycling and camping.

“Olli in the grab-and-go space was an easy decision because it allowed us to reach the lifestyle side of our customers,” says Gil Perales, marketing manager for Olli.

Olli Salumeria

Photograph courtesy of Olli Salumeria

Its newest products are Antipasto Trays in five varieties and two new Snack Packs flavors: Chorizo and Prosciutto. “We made our product accessible to bring along no matter where you went or what you were doing,” says Perales. “Quality food on demand is big,” he continues, as is the ability to grab a protein boost that is low in sugar.

Perales also sees value in cross merchandising and partnering with brands that complement grab-and-go charcuterie. These partnerships can help educate consumers about product usage. Whether it’s salami and cheese, salami and beer, or even chocolate and charcuterie, the opportunities for cross promotions that excite and delight shoppers abound.

Sustainable Snacking 

In its global report, The Evolution of the Sustainability Mindset, New York-based Nielsen found that 81% of respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment by implementing programs that encourage a healthier planet.

“Sustainability is an important concern of our consumer base,” says Aaron Aslin, brand manager for Organic Valley, La Farge, Wis., which launched its high-protein, on-the-go Snack Kits last year. “Consumers were excited about our new product but worried about the environmental impact of our packaging. We heard that loud and clear and started making our kits in a recyclable tray in the spring of 2019.”

organic valley

Photograph courtesy of Organic Valley

The Snack Kits come in three varieties: Sharp Cheddar Cheese & Beef Summer Sausage; Pepper Jack Cheese & Beef Summer Sausage; and Mozzarella Cheese & Roasted Garlic Beef Summer Sausage. Each kit is paired with a cracker from a local vendor and contains between 12 and 14 grams of protein.

“The portfolio will continue growing as it seeks to serve the needs of the heavy snacker,” says Aslin. The Snack Kits mark the first time that Organic Valley and Organic Prairie (Organic Valley’s organic meat brand) have come together under one brand. “The growth in snacking is causing retailers to rethink how they reach this valuable consumer, with multiple options depending on the store,” says Aslin. “We’ve seen the best success with our product being placed within the grab-and-go snack set. Consumers who are conscious of their food choices are thrilled to have a healthy grab-and-go alternative.”

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