Fancier grades of cold cuts, such as prosciutto and soppressata, have begun to work their way from the deli case into the domain of packaged foods.
In my day, getting fancy with cold cuts meant Mom fried the baloney in the pan, instead of serving it cold.
Today, consumers’ more sophisticated palates have led food companies to try to make these more sophisticated meats more convenient. Shoppers can now find these upscale lunch meats pre-sliced, prepackaged, and shopping cart-ready.
Some of the classic cuts are getting new flavors and styles, including better-for-you choices like the new lineup of Oscar Mayer Selects, which made its debut just last week.
Janet Riley, senior vice president for public affairs and member services at the American Meat Institute, says there has been a huge expansion of flavors in the category. She points out the many varieties of ham, including applewood smoked, honey, Black Forest and mesquite as just one example.
Taking a page from the traditional service deli, prepackaged lunch meats are now available in a range of thicknesses, too.
Responding to consumers’ demand for healthier choices, food companies have also been reducing sodium content, and removing artificial ingredients to yield a more natural product. Oscar Mayer recently announced that more than half of its new products rolled out in 2012 will have no artificial preservatives, and the company has set a goal to reduce sodium by 20 percent across all products by the end of the year.
Oscar Mayer’s Carving Board Meats have been a big hit, too, the company says. The line features whole cuts of meat that are roasted and sliced, aiming for a more homestyle taste and appearance. Sales more than doubled in 2011 vs. previous year for the line.
Looks like bologna and salami are going to be rubbing shoulders with some sophisticated new neighbors in the prepackaged meat case.
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