On-the-go snacking continues to be an important segment in the deli category.
The majority of prototypes sampled at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual meeting and exposition, held in Las Vegas June 25-28, had a common theme of being clean and simple formulations. Unlike in past years when exhibiting suppliers emphasized managing specific nutrients or eliminating individual additives, this year at IFT, that managing and eliminating melded into the bigger agenda of clean-label formulating.

Also part of that clean-label agenda was flavor – how to get the clearest, crispest, boldest flavor while reducing sodium and eliminating artificial ingredients. This is something important to manufacturers of ready-to-eat deli-style meats who are developing products to appeal to on-the-go, protein-seeking consumers.

Recent innovations 

Formulators are exploring a range of ingredients to either add bold – often ethnic, hot or smoky – flavors to meats, or to boost the umami taste in order to offer more robust meat flavor with lower sodium content. These meats are increasingly becoming components of adult-targeted protein snack packs. They also are being sliced-to-order at the service-deli counter, where consumers perceive them to be fresher and less processed than pre-packaged meats. The latter, however, is also trending as manufacturers clean up their labels, tout protein contents and deliver naturally flavorful product.

That’s what you get with the new line of Skinnygirl products from John Morrell & Co., Cincinnati. This five-variety line of Market Fresh Deli Meats is targeted to health and wellness-conscious women who are looking to maintain a healthful weight. Made with natural flavors, spices and seasonings, varieties are: Applewood Smoked Uncured Ham, Cane Sugar Sweet Uncured Ham, Clover Honey Smoked Turkey Breast, Herb Encrusted Roast Turkey Breast and Sriracha Chicken Breast. These all-natural meats are sold in 7-oz. resealable trays and sport the American Heart Association Seal.

Dietz & Watson Inc., Philadelphia, offers a range of on-trend seasoned service-deli counter meats enhanced with natural flavors and seasonings. Varieties include Santa Fe Turkey Breast, Sriracha Chicken Breast, and Tomato and Basil Ham.

For a limited time, Smithfield Foods Inc., Smithfield, Virginia, is offering carving-style Eckrich Deli Spicy Pineapple Ham. Intended for the service deli, this Caribbean-influenced ham delivers a blend of sweet pineapple, the subtle heat of chili peppers and the natural juices of a slow-cooked ham.

On the snacking side of the business, Tyson Foods Inc., Springdale, Arkansas, continues to grow its Hillshire Snacking brand, which includes an array of individually portioned protein snacks for an elevated on-the-go eating experience to satisfy sophisticated food palates. The line includes the Rustic Harvest variety with hickory smoked chicken breast cubes and Latin Fiesta with adobe-seasoned pork pieces.