WASHINGTON – Deli meat sales have increased over the past year during the pandemic, according to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). The Institute, as well as other associations supporting the deli meat industry, are hoping those sales increases will continue to rise, especially during National Deli Meat Month this March.

Grab-and-go deli meats sales in 2020 increased from 23% to 95% compared to the previous year, according to International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) and IRI.

"Very clearly, deli meats have been helping Americans navigate this new world since March 2020," said Eric Mittenthal, vice president of sustainability for NAMI. "This IRI data verifies two things – how much people rely on the convenience and nutrition of deli meats, and how effective deli departments have been at meeting consumers' needs for pre-sliced and grab-&-go options.”

National Deli Meat Month is a joint venture between NAMI, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff and The National Pork Board, administrator of the Pork Checkoff.  In 2021, IDDBA has joined the effort. 

"Deli meat annual sales in 2020 grew 9.3% to $7.2 billion, and packaged luncheon meat annual sales also grew 9.3% to $5.5 billion. There is no doubt that Americans enjoy and rely on deli meats," said Chris Jones, director, marketing strategy at the National Pork Board. "With the diversity of products at the deli case and counter, there is something for everyone to meet nutrition needs, tastes, budgets and personal preferences."

According to NAMI, the National Deli Meat Month celebration is a chance to provide educational and promotional tools to consumers, health professionals, retailers and manufacturers to encourage people to enjoy deli meat and remind them of nutritional benefits of the meat cuts.

A prepared meat product nutrition center was also put together for consumers to look at the variety of choices available and compare information on products.

Throughout March, the Meat Institute will highlight facts and recipes online using #DeliMeatMonth. NAMI also will have videos on Tiktok along with collaborations with The Food Renegades, a division of The Digital Renegades, a digital marketing agency and a chef alliance. Influencers will share new ways deli meats can be presented and consumed other than traditional lunch and sandwich products.