Italian Meats

Food culture evolves more and more every year. Media and technology make knowledge of food easily accessible to the common consumer. Consumers that once trusted the industry to tell them what was good, high-end, top quality, etc., now find information and make these food decisions on their own. The farm to fork movement, the foodie culture and the health and wellness movement all have legs and continue to gain traction with today’s modern consumer.

An easy way for supermarket delis to enter this niche market that’s becoming so popular is to carry specialty Italian meats. “When you promote these specialty items in your market, it gives your potential consumer another reason to come to your market over another grocery store,” says Jay Holt, senior vice president of sales for Columbus Foods in Hayward, California. “If your customer is making a charcuterie plate with specialty Italian items that your store carries, your market is guaranteed huge upsell opportunities,” Holt adds. “Now your customer has to pick up some specialty crackers, cheese and other sides to pair with the Italian meats they just bought from the deli.”

Popular Choices
If you want to play it safe at first or make sure you stock meats that sell consistently, it’s best to go with staples that have been around and held their popularity for some time. While the latest trends will sell, the classics provide steady sales over long periods of time. “Even though the Artisan line is our star, our best sellers are some of our original salame we’ve been making since 1917 like Italian Dry and Genoa,” Holt says. Traditional Italian recipes slow curing and quality ingredients mean customer satisfaction when it comes to Italian charcuterie.

“Other popular sellers include our Sopressata salame that is a perfect marriage of sweet fennel and red pepper and our Mortadella where we use a traditional recipe from Bologna, Italy,” Holt says.

Aside from the traditional Italian meats that most consumers know of, many lesser known products exist that can be a boon for sales at the deli counter. “Coppa is a lesser known item that can really fly off the slicer if promoted correctly,” Holt says. Known as the poor man’s prosciutto in Italy, Coppa comes from a shoulder cut of pork rather than the pure center cut of leg meat like the more expensive prosciutto. “It can best be explained to the novice customer as a wine soaked prosciutto for the mild coppa and a spicy prosciutto with a resonating heat for the hot coppa,” Holt adds.

Promote as Stand Alone
Giving the proper effort to promotion is the key to achieving sales goals for any product. “Promoting charcuterie trays and sampling are good ways to drive sales,” Holt says. “Sampling during demos allows the retailer to introduce and upsell customers on a lot of products that consumers might not have intended to buy, but will take home for their family to try after sampling a slice.”

Charcuterie is a specialty product. Certain shoppers will regularly seek out these products, others will do so for special occasions, and others will just see it and want to try it. “Promote charcuterie as its own category and focus on quality over a lower price,” Holt says. Regardless of price, customers will come back again and again for quality and flavor, he adds.