Food inflation is taking its toll on consumers’ pocketbooks, but certain premium categories are bucking the trend, selling well even during tough times.

Premium Italian meats is one of them.

Two new products from Correggio, Italy-based Veroni combine the company’s authentic Italian cold cuts with cheese and Italian breadsticks or dried fruits, said Emanuela Bigi, marketing manager.

One features imported Italian mild salami, provolone, and roasted almonds, the other imported Italian prosciutto, provolone cheese and breadsticks.

“The line guarantees a correct amount of protein and a big taste at the same time, perfect for a food break in the office, at school, or after the gym,” Bigi said.

All of Veroni’s snack line pairing options come in 2-ounce packs, a practical size that allows consumers to take them wherever they go, she added. The new products “aim to allow US consumers to indulge in authentic Italian taste and flavors while studying a product tailored to their lifestyle and able to satisfy their demand for nutrient-rich foods.”

Volumes of all Italian specialty meats sold in US grocery stores are up, but Veroni is seeing a particular uptick in demand for grab-and-go items. Bigi said that’s a perfect fit for the company, whose products come in easy-to-open trays, an option for an easy, quick-to-prepare lunchbox.

Charcuterie-and-cheese boards are also enjoying big growth and do well especially during the holidays, when consumers choose Italian deli meats to take their festive tables to the next level and surprise their guests with authentic flavors, she added.

Another trend Veroni is staying on top of is increased retailer demand for sustainable products from their supplier partners. Newer trays used by the company use 75% less plastic than trays they used to use.

Social sensation

Charcuterie’s remarkable surge in recent years can be traded in large part to social media influencers sharing Pinterest, Instagram or TikTok-worthy preparation ideas and serving suggestions, said Oliviero Colmignoli, president and founder of Oceanside, Calif.-based Olli Salumeria.

“These visually stunning boards showing artisanal cheeses, locally-sourced meats and gourmet accompaniments have become highly influential to consumers, especially among younger Millennial and Gen-Z demographics.”

As a result, the term “charcuterie board” has been searched more on Google over the past few years than ever before, and it’s one of the most talked-about trends in the food industry, he added.

While interest in charcuterie has been growing for several years, boards became increasingly popular during the pandemic. Consumers sought exciting, premium foods at home, leading to growing interest in boards and grazing platters, which encouraged a lighter, less entrée-focused approach to meals.

“As a result of the mainstreaming of charcuterie over time, consumers have an increased awareness of salami and other Italian deli meats and are more inclined to try these foods and experiment with new flavors,” Colmignoli said. “The industry is responding with expanded product development, new recipe formulations and unexpected packaging concepts that help make salami and other specialty deli meats more accessible and appealing to consumers.”

Increasingly, he added, consumers are looking for ways to make authentic charcuterie convenient for group gatherings. To cater to this growing trend, Olli launched its Olli Antipasto Trays, which offer 12 ounces of ready-to-serve charcuterie in a convenient tray for easy entertaining.

The trays feature a variety of salami types — which helps consumers experience the difference in flavors — and also offer specialty pairings of artisanal cheeses and other accompaniments like olives, or cornichons and onions.

For consumers who want a convenient starting point for their own charcuterie creations, Olli also offers a line of Olli Pre-Sliced Salami, in resealable four-ounce packing and offering a variety of flavors from its most popular genoa to the spicy calabrese, pepperoni and more.

As consumers became more familiar with the robust flavor of salami, artisanal cheese and other charcuterie favorites in recent years, there was an interest in enjoying these foods in portable snack form. As a result, one of the biggest trends lately is an increased demand for convenience in deli meats. Whether it’s grab-and-go snack packs, or pre-packaged charcuterie trays, consumers want to make the process of enjoying salami and other deli favorites easy.

Olli Salumeria responded to the shift in consumer demand for grab-and-go charcuterie with its line of Olli Snack Packs, which pair its slow-cured Italian-style salami with high-quality cheeses and artisanal crackers in a convenient two-ounce package.

Another recent entry in the snacking category for Olli is a line of bite-sized salami sticks, which offer 2.6 ounces of bite-sized salami sticks in a resealable bag and are available in bold flavors like Smoked, Pequin, Bourbon and Classic. Along with the four varieties of Salamini, the company also introduced the new Olli Salamini and Cheddar Cheese Curds snack this year, which pairs two favorite flavors in a convenient package.

Colmignoli said one way Olli stays on trend is by providing new serving suggestions, flavor pairings, recipes and usage ideas on its website and social media pages that encourage customers to enjoy more of the salami they already love.

Going clean

To answer the call for clean-label products made with simple, honest ingredients, Olli Salumeria has developed the industry’s first-ever salami formulation that is entirely free of added preservatives, said Colmignoli.

Olli’s proprietary curing process is a revolutionary step for modern salami making, Colmignoli said. While salt is the primary ingredient used for curing and preserving salami, for many decades, salami makers have relied on nitrates and nitrites as added preservatives.

Olli has developed a simple salt cure that eliminates the need for added nitrates and nitrites, producing a salami that is effectively free of preservatives. This groundbreaking curing process debuts with the Olli Salamini snacks, but Olli will also introduce its preservative-free process to its Olli Salami Chubs line this year.