KANSAS CITY - Consumers can’t help but be interested in charcuterie when they see a delicious spread of artisan goods artistically displayed on a wooden board, and that’s a big reason why supermarkets saw an increased demand in the charcuterie category in 2020.  

“The fact that something so fun and exciting in the food world can be ideal for snacking, a romantic date night, and any occasion in between makes charcuterie the ideal food trend with staying power,” said Evan Inada, charcuterie director for Columbus Craft Meats, Hayward, Calif. 

Domestically made premium charcuterie is still a relatively new category and US producers of cured meats have really started to emerge in the last decade or so.  

“Part of the excitement about the category is innovation in flavors and packaging that these domestic producers are offering and given all of the cross-cultural influence in food throughout the United States, charcuterie flavor profiles are virtually limitless,” said Scott Bridi, founder of Brooklyn Cured, headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y.  

Emanuela Bigi, marketing manager of Township, N.J.-based Veroni USA, said that today’s different consuming behaviors and needs are driving substantial changes in the charcuterie segment.   

“Consumers are taking more and more into consideration the origin of the products and highly evaluating their authenticity,” she said. “At the same time, foodies and younger generations are likely to be targeted with convenient snack packs, pre-made pairings and multiple component offerings. Health-conscious and environmentally aware consumers are willing to pay a higher price for products that are either environmentally better or have good nutrition properties.”  

She added that since more people ate at home in 2020 due to the pandemic, sales of charcuterie significantly increased.  

“We expect charcuterie demand will keep growing at a steady pace in 2021, as it remains on trend for high quality, flavorful, convenient meal solutions suitable for snacking, sandwiches, and easy at-home entertaining,” Bigi said. “The range of charcuterie continues to grow from both domestic and imported suppliers, with plenty of snacking and multi-component items entering the market.” 

Changing it up  

There seems to be new and different charcuterie pairings and flavors popping up in supermarkets all the time. 

“Brooklyn Cured’s line of shelf-stable salami chubs inspired by cocktails has been exciting for consumers and successful for specialty and deli departments throughout the country,” Bridi said. “Our salami with bourbon and sour cherries is inspired by a classic Manhattan cocktail, and it’s unique and festive.”  

Inada noted the biggest trend in charcuterie at the supermarket is in the way shoppers are being drawn towards specialty meats and cheeses with the sole purpose of finding something new and exciting to add to their charcuterie board.   

“Shoppers want to be educated on what to shop for to make their own personal charcuterie board, especially this year, when we are all looking for something fun and exciting we can create ourselves at home to fill the void of the normal restaurant experience,” he said. “We have been focused on continuing to create an exciting and educational charcuterie experience for shoppers to learn through enjoying charcuterie with us.”  

For instance, the company offers two varieties of Columbus Charcuterie Tasting Boards, which include specifically chosen items that are key to creating a balanced charcuterie board with its Columbus sliced salami and Prosciutto, along with the perfect cheese, olive, dried fruit and cracker pairings.  

“Once a novice charcuterie eater tries our Original or new Mediterranean tasting board, they begin to understand how charcuterie flavors work when paired correctly,” Inada said. “We also have been making sure to create the perfect wow factor items to add excitement onto the charcuterie board in our three charcuterie bacon flavors and premium paninos.”   

Veroni recently launched its innovative Enjoy AperiTime trays with five components to share with two or three people for at-home enjoyment or small gatherings, combining Italian charcuterie with products in-line with local consumers’ preferences.  

Retailers see rising demand  

Carlisle, Pa.-based retailer Giant recently added a charcuterie station to its Camp Hill, Pa., store, and it’s expected that this will become something replicated throughout supermarkets in the years ahead as the category continues to rise.  

At Raley’s, a West Sacramento, Calif.-based chain of more than 120 stores, the popularity of charcuterie trays in 2020 has resulted in more offerings at the store. 

“Customers especially look for healthier options and are moving away from the fillers and preservatives that are found in some meats, so the items being bought the most for at-home charcuterie boards are small-batch cured meats with artisan craftsmanship,” said Jake Panattoni, associate category manager for deli at the company. “Additionally, non-traditional flavors have become very popular. I am seeing tremendous growth in that segment of the category.” 

Merchandising and marketing matters  

Charcuterie is now more photogenic than ever and the popularity of charcuterie and cheese boards among social media influencers is driving interest in the category.  

“The colors, textures, and artistic compositions possible with meats, cheeses, fruits, pickles, and crackers are engaging new customers,” Bridi said. “We’ve worked with retailers on custom photoshoots of charcuterie boards with Brooklyn Cured products and other items in their specialty department. The photos are used for POS signage to illustrate how to build a board step by step to attract customers and drive sales.” 

The company also offers merchandising tools to support its items at store level, including branded display crates and information cards that provide descriptions and suggested pairings. 

 Bigi said it’s crucial for supermarkets to give more room to grab-and-go and high-quality pre-sliced meats that make up a charcuterie board. 

“A larger space would drive to an increase in product selection, including regional charcuterie and multi-component items, as well as any good-for-you offerings,” she said. “Better displays, including signage, dividers and product descriptions can also play an important role in appealing to buyers. Co-marketing initiatives launched by the producers and stores can also boost sales.” 

Inada noted when merchandising a display focused around charcuterie, a store should create a platform to highlight artisan goods from its specialty cheese, deli, cracker, dried fruit, etc., sections in a comfortable setting that empowers shoppers’ increased basket size.  

 “Salami has been in high demand due to the popularity of charcuterie during the pandemic,” he said. “We have worked with a lot of markets to provide merchandising around charcuterie education along with online on our website to make charcuterie education fun and easy to digest. With the increased number of shoppers purchasing charcuterie, we continue to work with our market partners to create charcuterie destinations in store for a profitable shopper solution.”  

This story was included in the January 2021 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. Read the rest of the magazine here.