Inflation has had an impact on how all grocery retailers market and merchandise their products, and the instore deli is no exception.

“We’ve had challenges this year with inflation,” said Abby Byers, vice president of delicatessen operations for Hy-Vee. 

Promotions have become more important than ever, Byers said. Hy-Vee’s Perks Pricing program, which saves shoppers money on hundreds of items throughout their local Hy-Vee, also plays a big role in the deli in attracting value-minded consumers.

Another key player during inflationary times, she added, is private-label products.

“It’s getting bigger play than it used to. The value perception is there.”

When it comes to particular items, Hy-Vee’s delis are enjoying strong growth in pre-sliced deli meats and cheeses, Byers said.

And the retailer is noting an evolution in charcuterie and the instore deli’s role in meeting those changing needs.

“The trend for so long was boards,” Byers said. “Now folks are really starting to explore different uses that go beyond just entertaining. They’re incorporating it more into everyday recipes. We’re really seeing that continue to grow.”

Hy-Vee customers are also increasingly seeing not only charcuterie but specialty cheese in general as a snacking option, and the retailer is responding accordingly, Byers said.

Tapping into surging consumer demand for meal solutions from the fresh perimeter, Hy-Vee’s instore delis are evolving their fresh sandwich program into something that can rival the highest-end foodservice channel sandwiches in the marketplace. “Folks are looking for restaurant quality foods in our store,” Byers said. “It’s definitely something to strive for.” 

Sizing flexibility 

On the bakery side at Hy-Vee, the increase in “my sizing” options is not only helping shoppers maintain their health goals, it’s also a great option in inflationary times.

“A 4-count is a great value for buns,” said Brandon Williams, Hy-Vee’s vice president of bakery. “You use all four, you don’t throw two away.”

The principle works across the department, he added. Many Hy-Vee desserts sell in not only 4- and 8-packs but also in 2-packs and even singles — “whatever size they need,” Williams said.

“That customer who’s dieting, they still indulge occasionally, but they do it in smaller sizes. You buy 6 cookies instead of 36.”

Indeed, decadent deserts, single patisserie items, cannoli and other international desserts, fruit cakes, savory breads, and other less traditional bakery items are all selling well at Hy-Vee stores, Williams said.

For further savings, Hy-Vee shoppers can utilize not only the Perks Plus program but also the retailer’s Fuel Saver program.

“The fuel program works really well for bakery,” Williams said.

In addition to “my sizing,” certain items are playing a huge role in bolstering the health halo in the retail ISB, which for so long has been maligned for containing foods high in carbs.

“We’ve seen a lot of life in artisan breads,” Williams said. “Sourdough has seen great growth. Our great have a lot of clean ingredients and are very simple, especially the artisan breads.”

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