Sprouts Farmers Markets reported its 13-week fourth-quarter and 52-week year results on Thursday, touting a six percent period-over-period quarterly increase and a 14 percent increase on a 13-week basis despite deflationary pressures.

During the earnings call, Sprouts CEO Amin N. Maredia cited deli and prepared foods as part of the company’s process on its strategic initiatives in the areas of product innovation, customer experience and more.

We implemented our food and deli expansions in 76 new and existing stores this year, offering the additional convenience of freshly prepared proteins, sides, salad bar, fresh juices and soup stations,” Maredia said.

He also pointed out that deli will continue to be an area of emphasis for 2017, mentioning the recent addition of a culinary chef.

“We will continue to roll-out our enhanced deli program in more than 50 new and existing stores. The new deli program sales continue to increase each month and are providing a nice mix lift to the basket,” he said. “We've recently added an experienced culinary chef to the team to help further drive innovation in this area and ensure product development is our trend and our high quality.

The company says it expects its fresh categories to remain deflationary in the first half of the year, continuing the deflationary events from 2016. Maredia said he believes Sprouts will show improvement in comps and earnings through the cycle and expects to return to double-digit EPS growth after exiting the deflationary environment.