A – Alternative Sizes: No longer does one size fit all. Consumers are shopping both online and instore and trips made to the store may be for an individual meal, snack or a stock-up to feed a family of 1-2 or 3 or more. Co-merchandising slices of cake, cheesecake, cupcakes and parfaits in the deli can meet the need for small indulgences, which were up 17% in Q3 of 2021, compared to 2020, according to Nielsen. 

B – Breakfast: Branch out beyond traditional deli offerings by offering the makings for a breakfast or brunch charcuterie board. Combine the salty and the sweet using donuts, pastries, waffles or pancakes, savory additions of boiled eggs, cheeses, ham, sausage, bacon or salmon and don’t forget the everything bagels.

 C – Charcuterie/Cheese: Make charcuterie a destination in the deli. Capture the novice with tried-and-true pairings before introducing them to local, regional and international artisan varieties of dried and cured meats and cheeses. The entertaining platform continues to see a resurgence, according to Andrew Quinn, director of marketing for Hormel Deli Solutions Group, Austin, Minn., and charcuterie boards and party trays align well with these trends.  

D – Desserts: Jackson, Mich.-based Dawn Foods flavor trends report for 2022 features immune-boosting desserts, bold and spicy infusions in sweet treats, chocolate flavors like black cocoa, gold chocolate and ruby chocolate, treats with additions of coffee & tea and globally inspired desserts. 

“We will continue to see single-serve desserts play a key role in the supermarket as consumers look for small indulgences,” said Bryan Fitzsimmons, senior manager of insights and client experience, Dawn Foods. “Smaller-sized baked goods help consumers feel better about the sweets they are eating because it’s easier to stick to the proper portion.”  

E – E-commerce: Add fresh options to e-commerce. With more people shopping hybrid (online and in-person), grocery retailer apps are a way to guide consumers to new discoveries, customizing instore shopping and creating inspirational shopping experiences. Older consumers are also becoming more familiar and comfortable using e-commerce.  

F – Fermented foods: A trends article from Newly Weds Foods, Chicago, shared the many benefits of fermented foods. Providing immunity and gut health, the process converts carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxides or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria or both. The anaerobic process results in delicious pickled vegetables, teas and yogurts with examples of kimchi, gochujang and kombucha tea, perfect for the deli. 

“There’s a lot of interest and innovation happening with ingredients that claim to boost immune health, brain health and gut health,” said Richard Wester, senior marketing manager, Newly Weds Foods. “The pandemic will continue to push these trends forward well after it’s over.” 

G – Gatherings: The postponement of gatherings in 2021 could see a rise in 2022 get-togethers, sparking more need for prepared deli options. Weddings and rehearsal dinners are also expected to be in full run 

as family and friends renew their in-person connections, and dinner parties are anticipated to be on the rise.

 H – Hot and Cold: Hot N Handy Grab N’ Go pouches from TC Transcontinental Packaging, Chicago, offer delis a way to brand hot and cold snack food in a package designed to maintain product integrity. Proprietary venting allows fried foods to stay crispy and sauced products like wings to remain moist. Microwave safe and leak resistant, the zip pouches are perfect for chicken drummies, wings, popcorn chicken, potato wedges, corn dogs, taquitos and more.

I – Inflation: When consumers hear or feel inflation personally, this changes their impression of a price increase. Retailers should focus on the end result of a trade-up and how the purchase or experience is worth the increase in price. IRI Insights recommends aligning price and value for the manufacturer and retailer. This includes shifting pack sizes to reduce cost to achieve a higher price per pound, gallon or ounce, and positioning existing products with messaging that will not alienate current customers. 

 J – Jostled Pricing: Ongoing supply chain issues will continue to translate into escalating meat prices and limited quantities of raw and finished goods. This will make things generally more expensive across the board. Precarious supply chain issues can benefit from creative approaches when collaborating with suppliers.  

K – Kitchen Burnout: The Future of Lunch study from The NDP Group sees consumers returning to convenient ways to prepare or source lunch. With mobility once again on the rise, people are looking for easy-to-transport items and snack kits. This includes accommodating the needs of both commuters and those still working at home.

 L – Labor: Continuing labor shortages find many deli departments looking for new ways to multitask. Amcor Flexibles, Oshkosh, Wis., has a grab-and-go deli line that offers the look and feel of freshly sliced deli offerings without incurring the labor costs of packing the product on premises. With greater focus on smaller, more premium brands, grab-and-go prepackaged deli meat packaging is a growing segment, one that provides convenience with the added benefit of a product delivered safely direct from the manufacturer.  

M – Meal Solutions: The prepared food department continues to up its game, offering restaurant-quality food alongside grab-and-go. BBQ, pizza and sushi can serve as prepared fresh options for consumption now or later. Dom’s Kitchen & Market, Chicago, offers a concept that’s part market/part kitchen with traditional grocery markets, fresh grab-and-go and a café and bar. 

N – Nostalgia: Comfort foods continue to provide a measure of consolation and cheer in a world that often feels upside down. Cold weather days can benefit from selections of hot sandwiches, warm entrees, soups, stews, chili and pasta that are ready to pick up on the way home.  

O – Organic Waste: The launch of a statewide compositing mandate in California looks to divert organic waste, a contributor of methane emissions, from landfills. With a target of a 75% reduction by 2025, businesses will be tasked with finding ways to redirect and redistribute food to local food banks and soup kitchens.  

P – Private label: 87% say private brand variety is just as good, if not better, than premium brands. Eighty-two percent say private brands are a better value, and 55% say private brands meet their needs. (IDDBA Madison, Wis., What’s in Store 2021 State of the Industry)

Q – Quality versus Quantity: IDDBA shared four impactful themes: 1) fewer trips, more missions, 2) competition for fresh items, 3) new ways of shopping (online and instore), and 4) more meals prepared at home. Seventy-five to eighty percent of meals are prepared in the home using convenient and fresh items. Deli meats and cheeses are viewed as a premium item, yet still cheaper than eating outside the home.  

R – Restaurant Quality: Hormel’s Quinn shared the push for favorably priced restaurant-quality solutions is driving traction for retailers. In a challenging labor environment, retailers are requesting concepts that reduce instore prep work. Hormel’s Perfect Plates offer restaurant-quality meals that arrive to retailers ready for display. Kroger, Cincinnati, is partnering with Kitchen United, a ghost kitchen company in Pasadena, Calif., to provide menu items from popular restaurants.  

S – Sliced: Statistics from IRI Integrated Fresh, a Chicago-based market research firm, found deli service lunchmeat at $4,765,594,218, deli grab & go sales at $2,061,725,131, and deli pre-sliced lunchmeat at $778,635,561 for the latest 52 weeks ending Nov. 28.  

T – Trends: Reduceatarianism, a Whole Foods Top Trend for 2022, encourages choosing animal-based products with sustainable attributes such as sourcing from grain-fed and pasture-raised animals or animals produced under organic certification. The trend offers consumers a middle ground where there’s no need to cut out foods completely. 

U – Upcycling: The Hartman Group’s Sustainability 2021: Environment and Society in Focus reported that consumers find upcycling to be a smart and inventive way to reduce food waste. Delis can demonstrate the practice of creative reuse by offering tips for using items such as rotisserie chicken in soups, fajitas, wraps or sandwiches.  

V – Vitamin- and Nutrient-Enhanced: Alternative grains add nutrients to bread without compromising taste or texture. Grains such as chickpea flour and quinoa bolster value, adding important whole-grain nutrition, protein and fiber to consumers’ diets. This includes interest in lower-carbohydrate choices that match personal health values and preferences, according to Lindsey Morgan, head of product marketing, Ardent Mills, Denver.  

W – Working Together: As supply chains continue to show strain, it will be increasingly important to solidify supplier relationships to improve communications and to help companies better navigate and forecast. Getting re-acquainted with local suppliers could also be a smart way to keep supply chains flexible.  

X – Crossover: Bakery de France is seeing more crossover between the bakery and deli with some retailers opting to use premium products in the instore bakery and in the deli category, according to Alexander Salameh, COO, Bakery de France, Frederick, Md. With increased foot traffic in retail stores, the opportunities for premium convenience products are higher than ever.  

Y – Younger Generations: The Grocery Shopping Habits of Gen Z and Millennials from FMI and the USC Marshall School of Business, Los Angeles, found these tech-savvy groups like to shop instore, preferring 

to see the freshness and quality of the foods they’re buying. Both groups like to cook from scratch but are open to supplementing with pre-prepared foods.

Z – Gen Z: The Instagram Trend Report 2022 predicts cooking on social media will be trending in 2022. This generation is on the lookout for new and increasingly complex recipes to round out their cooking repertoire. One in six millennials shows an interest in at-home molecular gastronomy and are curious about new ways to source ingredients.