Thursday, May 10, 2012

Packaged Lunch Meat Carves Out A New Niche - May 9th, 2012

Thin-sliced roasted turkey, prosciutto and soppressata no longer are the domain of the deli.

Food companies looking to capitalize on consumers' increasingly sophisticated tastes - and their need for speed at the grocer and at home - are carving out new directions in lunch meat with upscale options that are pre-sliced, prepackaged and ready to go right alongside the bologna.

They also are revamping the classics, offering new flavors and styles of basic deli meats, including better-for-you options like the new line of Oscar Mayer Selects being introduced this week.

"There has been a huge expansion of flavors," says Janet Riley, who has seen the trend as senior vice president for public affairs and member services at the Washington-based American Meat Institute - and as a mom. She was recently picking out ham for her son's lunch and was struck by "the smoked, the honey, Black Forest, the mesquite and all the other options."

Some prepackaged lunch meats now come in thicker slices, mirroring the choice at a traditional deli. Herbs and spices also are showing up in prepackaged products, boosting flavor and appeal. And there are the packages of sliced, dry-cured meats, such as soppressata and prosciutto, which used to be strictly deli items.

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