Supermarket Perimeter - September 2020 - 37

Deli

WHETHER IT'S DUE TO THE KIDS BEING HOME FROM SCHOOL,
adults making lunches at home versus grabbing lunch around their
office, or a continuation of limited foodservice operations, consumers
are making a lot more sandwiches and deli meat consumption has
gone up amid COVID-19.
Since early March, deli meat sales have been off the charts compared
to previous years. While the deli and deli prepared category has been
struggling overall since the onset of the pandemic, deli meats and
cheeses have been the category's saving grace. In the last week of July,
210 Analytics and IRI reported that sales of random weight, non-UPC
deli meat increased by 11.2% compared to the same time frame in 2019.
Like most other grocery applications, consumers are more interested
in pre-packaged, grab-and-go deli meats and the bulk of deli meat sales
are going toward fresh-cut and pre-sliced random weight, non-UPC deli
meat versus pre-packaged lunch meat in the refrigerated area.
Before the pandemic hit, consumers were already looking for
ethically and transparently produced deli meats made with natural
ingredients. Shoppers were looking for convenience surrounding
the products they purchased, and they were interested in trying new
flavors. Since COVID-19 entered the picture, most of those trends have
quickly accelerated.

Pre-packaged fresh slices the new normal

S
HORMEL, CARGILL PROTEIN

Beloit, Wis.-based global food industry solutions company Kerry
expects that the shift to pre-packaging fresh deli items like meats,
cheeses and prepared foods will be a long-term change.
"The consumer mindset has changed around touch points and this
weariness may be here long-term, so the move to more refrigerated
UPC options instead of bulk deli may continue," said Maria Alarcon,
direct retail marketing manager for Kerry. "Grocers will want to offer
their best-selling options that they know consumers will gravitate
toward - the classics or regular offerings that customers typically buy
from their deli counter."
Cory Lommel, director of consumer insights for Wichita, Kan.-based
Cargill Protein, noted that when moving sliced-to-order deli meats to
a grab-and-go setting it's important for grocers to put the bulk of their
focus on their highest velocity products.
"You want your grab-and-go products to turn quickly, customers
don't want products that have been in the case for more than a day,"
Lommel said. "So you want your quickest, most appealing varieties in
the grab-and-go case."
Favorite consumer deli meat choices vary from store to store due
to geographic and demographic impacts, but Cargill Protein can help
grocers identify which types of deli meats will be most successful in their
grab-and-go case. Recently, Cargill Protein conducted a survey asking
consumers their preferences around 90 different varieties of deli meat.
From those survey results, the company can help retail customers know
the best fit for their store from customized data broken down by region.
Cargill offers a grab-and-go solution for retailers that has been part of
the company's product lineup since before the pandemic hit. The graband-go solution offers fresh-cut deli meats including Oven Roasted
Turkey Breast, Mesquite Turkey Breast, Honey Ham, Seasoned Roast
Beef, Honey Turkey Breast, Oven Roasted Chicken Breast and Black
Forest Ham.

According to research released by IRI, in the four weeks leading up to
July 12, oven roasted deli meats and flavors such as cracked pepper and
buffalo were among the top flavors resonating with consumers.
For Garner, NC-based Butterball, this year's top sellers for the
company have been Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Thanksgiving-Style
Roasted Turkey Breast, Turkey Pastrami, Cajun Turkey Breast and Honey
Roasted Turkey Breast.
"Many deli counters have reduced customer interactions by offering
pre-sliced and bagged grab-and-go type options," said Rebecca Welsh,
senior brand manager of seasonal and deli for Butterball. "To help the
service deli operators meet those needs, Butterball offers merchandising
options like branded bags and adhesive labels that make it easier for
shoppers to find and pick up Butterball products quickly instore."
Butterball makes all of its premium deli flavors without nitrites or
nitrates, and shoppers are still on the lookout for clean-label, better-foryou products. In fact, those qualities have seemed to gain even more
traction since the onset of the pandemic.
"Clean label attributes, such as 'all natural/100% natural' and 'made
with real' will continue to help consumers prioritize their purchases,"
said Alarcon. "While the current focus is on food safety, clean label is a
longer-term consumer goal."
Cargill Protein's research shows that consumers are more likely to
purchase products that offer a sense of transparency. Customers are
interested in knowing about the ingredients in the products they are
buying, they want to know any production claims associated with the
item and how their food was produced.

New flavors still appeal in small doses
While customers typically have their go-to deli meat choices and have
gravitated toward familiar flavors amid the pandemic, there is still
consumer interest around trying out new flavors. That's why Cargill
Protein launched three new flavors under its premium Charter Reserve
brand earlier this year including Big Island Barbecue Chicken,Sweet
Kentucky Bourbon Ham and Baja Chili Limon Turkey.
"Those ideas had high appeal in a variety of research we did," said
Lommel. "People have their standbys, but I think we're starting to see a
little more experimentation and interest in new varieties."

supermarketperimeter.com

SEPTEMBER 2020 - 37


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