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Top Trends in Cold Cuts and Deli Meats The popularity of Cold Cuts & Deli meat is finally finding its way home with Indian consumers experimenting with everything from prosciutto to salami to hams as part of their diet

By Lisa Suwal

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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With India currently being the second fastest growing market for processed meat and poultry with a CAGR of 22per cent, it comes as no surprise that cold cuts are finding a share in the Indian plates right from breakfast to dinner.

Various factors are helping boost the popularity of this segment including consumers demand convenience, the greater availability of a variety of cuts from manufacturers and the fact that many Indians are foregoing the vegetarian diet for a comparatively protein-rich meat diet in general.

The expanding urban population base, rising demand for on-the-go foods and increasing awareness about different cold cuts with travel & exposure are definitely some of the drivers for the current spurt of growth in the Indian cold cuts market.

Besides the overall booming market for cold cuts, here are the top 4 trends we see in the Cold Cuts & Deli Meat segment in India:

The shift in consumption from Frozen to Fresh Cold Cuts

5 to 10 years ago cold cuts rarely delivered on consumers taste, availability and price expectations. Unlike International Markets, where frozen cold cuts are unheard of (and even looked down upon), the supply of Cold Cuts in India being driven completely by Frozen Cold Cuts & Sausages.

In the last 5 years, the adoption of consuming Fresh Cold Cuts has been significant across the major cities with consumers foregoing the frozen cold cuts owning to the availability of far better tasting & nutritious fresh & chilled cold cuts.

The difference in taste between freshly made hams, salamis & sausages versus the same cold cuts in frozen formats is so noticeable that customers are adopting these at a frenetic pace.

Once reserved to a speciality market and meat shops, conventional grocers across cities & feeder cities are slicing into the action with dedicated charcuterie counters stocked with fresh cold cuts to tap into the increasing demand for fresh & never frozen cold cuts.

Emphasis on Ingredients & Quality

Consumers nowadays are willing to pay much more for high-quality ingredients & quality. With growing health awareness among consumers, the result can be seen in the increasing demand for cold cuts using natural & healthy cuts like the use of certified hormone & antibiotic free meats in all sausages & cold cuts.

With information being readily available to consumers, this has served as a boon for manufacturers who have primarily focused on providing quality over others looking at only costs.

Further, producers are pushing the envelope to both differentiate their meats and to tap into consumers' evolving palates. This has given rise to cold cuts & sausages with flavorful ingredients such as use of Imported Spices and quality cheese inside the meats as well as smoky or spicy offerings.

Highlighting Claim Based labels

Today consumers have become avid label readers and when it comes to meat products they are not only curious about how they are made but also how the animals are raised.

These traits are important to customers. Ten years ago, no one asked for "hormone-free" pork or where it came from—but now transparency is top of mind. From clean labelling and callouts to use of nutritious ingredients and brand transparency, the consumer trend towards health and wellness has placed focus on highlighting claims on the labels.

This makes sense, as health claims in deli meats overall are trending up. According to Nielsen, antibiotic- and hormone-free claims are up 15 per cent in volume, products labelled with no artificial preservatives are up 7 per cent in volume, while all natural is up 2.5 per cent in volume.

Sales of products & brands with a focus on transparency claims including free from artificial ingredients, sustainable & health focused sourcing & quality ingredients have been the ones to grow over the past few years. Further, products made from heritage breeds—ones that were once raised by our forefathers and are humanely raised and bred for certain traits and consistency of taste and flavor—are getting a lot of attention.

Innovation based on Health & Evolving Palates

Everyone is still very focused on being more health-conscious and conscious of what they're putting into their bodies. Processed products have been notorious for having a concentration of sodium nitrate. However, the deli meat categories have taken leaps ahead been increasingly cooking up offerings to appeal to the health-conscious consumers.

Brands have provided consumers with choice and accessibility for purchasing their favourite cold cuts.

Consumers especially the millennials are increasingly choosing brands that are socially responsible, charitable and authentic. Fewer the ingredients mean a better product with highly wholesome attributes.

Lisa Suwal

Lisa Suwal - CEO of Prasuma

A Postgraduate from Symbiosis Center for Management and Human Resource Development, Pune. Lisa Suwal - CEO of Prasuma - Pioneers of premium Meats and Delicatessen. Growing up in a family involved in delicatessen business for over 30 years, she has always been exposed to the nitty-gritty of the business and the art of making good food. A young and seasoned marketer, she is known for her innovative approach towards brands and alluring business perspective.

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