During COVID, when consumers had to find alternatives to eating out, one option they chose was the instore deli.

“Breadth of offering became critical” to meet those new needs, said Anne Nelson, senior manager, deli brand and strategy, for Reser’s Fine Foods.

In response, Reser’s adapted its portfolio in both bulk and pre-pack to suit a variety of new consumer needs, Nelson said.

The company’s deli salad roster now ranges from versatile salads that can be served warm or cold — and repacked or displayed in the bulk case — to salads with meat and non-meat protein inclusions that can be considered a side or a main.

“Product development has opened up, and deli salads have broader reach than ever,” she said.

Protein, potato, and macaroni salads are still the heavy lifters in category for Reser’s.

But while traditional and regionalized flavors still drive the bulk of sales, it’s important, Nelson said, to offer variety, as many consumers in the segment are still looking for new and different options as the category has expanded.

Variety has never been a problem for Reser’s, which refreshes its deli salad portfolio twice a year, bringing new varieties to the case and shelf.

In 2024, look for new salads tapping into growing demand for “elevated comfort” flavors; emerging regional and ethnic dishes; hearty protein inclusions; and the adaptation of flavor profiles from outside the category.

This article is an excerpt from the March 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Deli Salads feature and more in the digital edition here.