Oscar Mayer Sub Kits combine complementary flavors and meat types into a single, resealable package. 

In keeping with the “more is more” notion, other brands use the variety format to combine certain popular products. Foster Farms, for instance, offers a variety pack of 99 percent fat-free deli meats, including oven roasted turkey breast, smoked turkey breast and honey cured turkey breast, and a value variety pack, with attractively-priced oven roasted white turkey, chicken bologna and turkey pastrami.

As different deli meat brands group together certain products to appeal to segments of their audience, there is also a move toward variety packs that include more natural, organic or otherwise better-for-you deli meats. “What is driving demand now is the desire for organic, minimally processed and natural. Consumers want deli meats with less artificial ingredients, like sodium nitrite and sodium erythorbate,” remarks meat industry consultant Mark Schad.

Other opportunities exist to co-pack other types of deli meats that are emerging in popularity. “Consumers are also looking for artisan products, such a prosciutto and Parma ham and fermented and dried products with unique flavors,” Schad notes.

Johnson says that authenticity in flavor is tied into artisan-style offerings. “Snack and entertainment-targeted products focused around regional foodservice themes such as Italian antipasto and Spanish tapas are adding culinary sophistication,” she reports, adding, “Sampler platter formats introduce consumers to new tastes, while also allowing them to impress their friends.” Among other examples, she cites Busseto Foods Antipasto Trio, a gluten-free selection of thinly sliced prosciutto, sopressata with mild salami flavor and bresaola made from Italian dried beef.

Meanwhile, processors can mix up the marketplace by combining deli meats with complementary foodstuffs. “Differentiation through uniqueness in flavors and adding non-meat ingredients is also driving demand. For example, jalapeño peppers and/or cheddar cheese added to traditional deli items are very popular and will continue to be,” Schad says.

Snack packs that include deli/processed meats have also found a following. Although not used for deli sandwiches, portions of processed meats, like salami, ham and others, are packaged with other snacks, like crackers and cheeses. The Boar’s Head brand, for example, offers Antipasto Packs of Genoa Salame and Picante Provolone Cheese and Sopressata and Picante Provolone cheese; the meats and cheeses can be stacked for quick treats or arranged on an antipasto tray. Hillshire Farms’ answer to the snacking variety pack is its Small Plates line of prepackaged snacks, including Genoa Salame with Natural White Cheddar Cheese sold with sea salt toasted rounds.

Johnson underscores the appeal of protein in these snack packs, whether for adults or children. “Meal kits targeting snacking occasions are now featuring multiple foods and component-style packaging, as well as high protein delivery. Moving forward, timing of protein will become more important for consumers, while increased scrutiny of ingredient and product origin and processing will drive development of ‘clean’ and ‘green’ options,” she says.