Whereas the pandemic-driven days of 2020 brought with it some 300 million Zoom calls per day, including millions of virtual holiday meals, 2021 is poised to bring back the traditional family gathering. Family and friends will be front and center after long absences and the importance of being together will make this upcoming holiday season especially meaningful and memorable. 

While Covid is unfortunately not completely behind us, with vaccinations on the rise the country is certainly turning a corner. Instead of struggling to modify holiday plans while trying to navigate new terms and situations such as “community spread,” “social distancing,” and “mask mandates,” families this year will be focusing on how best to fill their holiday tables with healthy, sustainably raised, premium showcase proteins—like the ultimate show stoppers: spiral sliced hams—that both elevate the main meal and then lend themselves to varied, tasty and easy-to-prepare leftovers. 

The summer of 2021 saw a huge rise in travel with massive pent up demand for family vacations and reunions. According to AAA, July 4th travel increased 40% over the previous year, the second-highest travel volume on record. Travel experts expect this trend to continue through the fall and winter with in-person family gatherings back on the calendar and at pre-pandemic levels.

Consumer Demand for Premium Meat

According to Chris Dubois, Senior Vice President, Protein Practice Leader, IRI Worldwide, “Claims-based meat has been a major growth driver for the retailer’s meat case over the last five years. Both animal welfare claims and feed claims (e.g., organic, antibiotic-free) have been powerful, and they resonate with customers that have large baskets each week. Every year we find that the retailers that get behind and build meat cases that offer multiple options for consumers are the ones that grow the fastest.”

Despite the attention paid to vegan diets and plant-based alternatives, meat remains as popular as ever. According to the 2021 Power of Meat report, 71% of consumers describe themselves as meat eaters and 19% as flexitarians—a values driven, growing part of the market. These “swing voters” of the industry aim to eat less meat, but when they do indulge choose the best quality products and those that align with their values. 

As consumers get pickier about the meat they eat, values-driven brands like Niman Ranch producing premium products, and retail partners that carry their offerings, are particularly well-positioned, especially for special occasion meals.

Meal Prep Shortcuts to Save Time for Family

After months or even years of delay since the last family gathering, the 2021 holiday season will be focused on quality time spent together. While consumers want show stopper, traditional meals to adorn their holiday tables, they also want ease in preparation so they can spend more time with family and friends.

Since Niman Ranch spiral hams are already fully cooked, and only need to be warmed through, they are much less intimidating to prepare than a turkey or standing rib roast. This ease of preparation allows hosts to mix and mingle with family and friends, while still producing a delicious and Instagram-worthy center piece meal. And the leftovers one can create from a spiral-sliced ham range from breakfast casseroles, to soup, and everything in between, making easy meal prep for the days following a holiday easy and less stressful for home cooks.

Niman Ranch’s artisanal spiral hams are 100% Certified Humane, antibiotic and hormone free and raised on small, sustainable family farms.In fact, the company’s gourmet hams are prepared with a delicate blend of maple, sugar and salt, then slowly smoked over real Applewood for up to 12 hours, sealing in the succulent flavor. Slowly smoking the hams with just the right amount of salt and sugar enhances the mild yet slightly sweet smoke flavor, making it a consumer favorite in terms of flavor. But also, since ham is a lean protein that contains important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, consumers appreciate those qualities as well.

Marketing Premium Proteins for Holiday Meals

Through savvy marketing and merchandising, retailers can utilize this demand for premium, claims-driven proteins the holiday season to drive sales and differentiate themselves. 

Niman Ranch supports its retail partners with robust marketing offerings to help move product. Collaborative efforts include QR codes for merchandizing directing users to farm videos to showcase product storytelling, digital cookbooks for consumer recipe inspiration and virtual interactive events with celebrity chefs. 

John Flynn, VP of Retail Sales for Niman Ranch, added “We value our retail partners greatly and invest in their success. We know and fully appreciate that our customers’ success directly supports our network of 750 independent family farmers and ranchers. We are committed to providing the best customer service and the most delicious product for home cooks looking to create memorable family gatherings this upcoming holiday season.”