The supermarket deli has long been a destination for on-the-go shoppers who are looking for quick meal solutions at price points better than restaurant counterparts. That’s why the grab-and-go segment in the department has been so popular over the past decade.
After all, people have busy lifestyles and are always looking for fast solutions and easy-to-prepare consumer meals.
Growth in the grab-and-go category is expected to increase by more than 10% in 2022, according to the Madison, WI-based International Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA).
Laura Morris, associate marketing director at Kayco Brands, based in Newark, NJ, notes that while the grab-and-go segment took a hit during the pandemic, it’s been back in full force in 2022.
“Prior to the pandemic, the segment evolved greatly due to the busy on the go lifestyles, and while there was a decline the past two years, we’ve recently seen the uptick,” she says. “The classic staples have always been sandwiches, but functional beverages are becoming popular, as consumers look to healthier offerings versus sugary drinks.”
Kurt Richars, director of market development and sustainability for Anchor Packaging, headquartered in St. Louis, notes the increased demand is driven more now as a value-added answer to what’s for dinner than by safety concerns.
“Today, inflation and busy schedules make grab-and-go more valuable for consumers,” he says. “Packaging supports profitable sales growth here. It preserves food quality longer to limit waste, and it protects taste for a meal experience that wins repeat business. Additionally, packaging geometries present abundance while controlling food costs to enable accessible price points.”
One of the most important items for grab-and-go is the chicken roaster. In many ways, this long-time consumer favorite is the definition of grab-and-go done right—a convenient alternative to home preparation, consistently delicious and ideal for many meals.
Giuliana Pozzuto, marketing director at DeLallo, based in Mt. Pleasant, PA, notes the company’s grab-and-go line has been a tremendous hit since the pandemic.
“We have always offered prepackaged olives, olive mixes, antipasto salads, bruschetta and more alongside our self-serve olive bars,” Pozzuto says. “Retailers have found that offering both programs—prepackaged and self-serve olive bar—give them the ability to capture the full market and cater to the ever-changing needs of the consumer. This includes expanding its reach into online olive and antipasto sales.”
Chris Lotito, founder of Folios Cheese Wraps, has seen a rise in grab-and-go products at the deli in 2022 as more consumers resume a normal life and work schedule.
“Cheese remains popular as it is easy to grab and filling, and it can be added to a meal or as a stand-alone snack,” he says. “On-the-go cheese and charcuterie are also very popular and rising in demand.”
Carl H. Cappelli, senior vice president of sales and business development for Don’s Prepared Foods, headquartered in Schwenksville, PA, says one of the biggest trends he’s seeing in the grab-and-go segment is a greater interest in healthy plant-based items.
That’s why Don’s Grains, Sides and Better Bowls are an idea fit for retail deli, he says.
“The best path forward is for a retailer to buy in bulk from Don’s and then scoop out into their cups in-store and create the perfect summertime grab-and-go items,” Cappelli says. “Don’s also offers some traditional salads in pre-packed cups.”
Another trend Cappelli sees in the segment is a craving for globally-inspired flavors, and he expects to see more companies offering products that appeal to this desire.
“This is where we see the newer trends coming as people are always looking for bold, new flavors, and we don’t see that changing,” he says.
Evan Inada, director of charcuterie at Hayward, CA-based Columbus Craft Meats, notes the Italian deli category continues to thrive as more and more shoppers are turning to charcuterie options for entertaining opportunities and grab-and-go possibilities.
“Many of the elements that comprise charcuterie boards (crackers, deli meats, cheeses, nuts, etc.) are seeing growth and that is in direct relation to the rise in popularity of charcuterie,” he says.
Columbus Craft Meats’ approach to grow the grab-and-go segment has always been around innovation, education and inspiration, with Inada pointing to products like its Columbus Charcuterie Tasting Board, Columbus Charcuterie Sampler and the Columbus Charcuterie Trio as those that make it easy and approachable for many shoppers to experience and learn about charcuterie basics.
“From there, the exploration of new flavors continues to grow this category,” he says. “The charcuterie staples like Italian Dry and Genoa Salame are common on a board, and we see shoppers continuing to look for the newer flavors options like our Columbus Artisan Collection varieties in flavors like cacciatore, finocchiona piccolo, sopressata and secchi.”
Debbie Seife, director of marketing of FrieslandCampina, based in the Netherlands, shares that when COVID first kept people at home, the segment naturally declined as people were not on the go the way they used to be, but like others in the segment, has seen things turn around quickly.
“Now, over two years later, grab-and-go has picked back up to where was pre-pandemic,” she says. “The deli has become a destination and go-to for consumers, as it evolved into a solution for many from conveniently portioned cheese and other products to home meal solutions.”
No Sales Dips for Dips
Cappelli believes America has gone “dip crazy” this past year, with more people planning parties and gatherings to make up for past years. Many of these dips are popular among grab-and-go shoppers.
Jay Whitney, chief marketing officer FoodStory Brands, headquartered in Phoenix, noted the company’s Fresh Cravings brand has been fortunate to achieve rapid growth throughout the past several years, allowing for an expansion of offerings in the deli sections of major retailers across the country.
In fact, over the last year, Fresh Cravings hummus achieved remarkable growth, moving up from the 44th highest ranked hummus brand in the nation, to fourth. This is not entirely surprising, especially since UK-based Mintel’s February 2022 Dips and Savory Spreads report noted that 31% of Americans purchased hummus in the past six months, and consumers are most likely to associate hummus as healthy over any other type of dip.
The grab-and-go segment continues to evolve as numerous products are thrown into the mix, with everything from cheese snacks to full meal solutions.
Fresh Cravings’ products have evolved in numerous ways over the past several years, with the company concentrating on full-size options from 10 ounces to its newly-launched 17 ounce containers, which come in Classic, Honey Jalapeño, Roasted Red Pepper and Roasted Garlic.
“In response to a high demand for our products, we expanded flavor options, updated our packaging design and diversified the sizes of available products,” says Whitney. “Our data shows that consumers want more variety in product sizes.”
DeLallo has recently expanded its prepackaged line of grab-and-go olives and antipasti to include more sizes and more items—for a total of over 40 items in four sizes.
“Our latest innovation to the world of olives and antipasti has been a complete grab-and-go charcuterie board,” Pozzuto says. “This entertaining solution gives the customer a perfectly put-together spread to include olives, cheese, salumi, bruschetta and crostini—everything needed in one package. It really is a one-stop-shop item for deli departments to capture a complete sale.”
Folios Cheese Wraps Mozzarella is the company’s newest product, joining other flavors including Jarlsberg, Parmesan and Cheddar.
“Made with 100%, all-natural lightly baked sheets of cheese, Folios are lactose and gluten-free, grain free, and have only 1gram of carbs—ideal for a low-carb diet,” Lotito says. “These flavorful, keto-certified wraps are a great grab-and-go and can be used as a grab-and-go snack or perfect for sandwiches and wraps.”
At FrieslandCampina, as snacking picked back up, the company launched Royal Hollandia Cheese snacks last year for easy grab-and-go solutions.
“Royal Hollandia cheeses are made with the highest quality ingredients and are produced in a meticulous fashion, which began over 120 years ago, delivering premium cheese products,” Seife says. “Dutch cheesemakers have a long, rich history in cheesemaking, and cheese is ingrained in their culture. Our Gouda cheeses transcend the notion of superior quality.”
That has led to Royal Hollandia Entry Packs, an entirely new size of cheese for the deli.
“This unique entry point allows consumers to try cheeses in smaller sizes and at smaller price points,” Seife says. “Entry Packs are available in six varieties that are perfectly portioned in 3.5-4-ounce exact weight pieces. All product ships in shelf-ready packaging that is easy for retailers to stock and easy for consumers to shop.”
In March of 2022, Fresh Cravings’ launched a bold new visual evolution of its branding that was designed to further engage grab-and-go shoppers.
“The new packaging communicates the company’s fresh and distinctive personality by utilizing playful imagery of fruits and vegetables and vibrant colors that leave a lasting impression on shoppers,” says Whitney. “The company also made a point of adding easy-to-read heat and flavor callouts to make it easier for shoppers to find the tastes they’re craving. In addition to the new branding, all Fresh Cravings products come in industry-leading recyclable packaging.”
At Kayco Brands’ Wonder Melon, Wonder Lemon and Beetology, the company utilizes only glass recyclable bottles, knowing that people are more concerned for the environment than ever before.
Folios Cheese wraps are in convenient resealable packages that are easy to grab and take along with you for making your own charcuterie cheese and meat wraps, Lotito says. “We have also updated the packaging go be bolder and stand out for the consumer.”
The Columbus Charcuterie Tasting Board packaging is very innovative while still intuitive and practical, according to Inada.
“It has all the food options separated on a tray with a wood grain appearance design, so it’s perfect to simply remove the seal and serve,” he says. “Additionally, we have new Columbus Artisan Collection varieties that are salami sticks with natural casings. Each has information on the label with info on how to use the product and the natural casings bring that rustic flavor and authenticity to any charcuterie experience.”
Cross Merchandising Opportunities
Fresh Cravings has found that cross marketing with products that tie directly into use cases is the best way to market its products. For example, the company has seen success cross marketing its hummus next to complimentary dippers, like Stonefire Naan or ready-cut veggies.
Morris notes grab-and-go beverage cases near sandwich and other food items is a sure winner in the category.
Inada notes Columbus charcuterie destination displays have really brought interest to the deli and other areas of the store.
“They allow us to market beyond the deli, moving into the specialty cheese and wine areas,” he says. “That really helps us continue to further not only the Columbus brand name, but also help drive sales in other areas of the store.”
Industry insiders agree that grab-and-go products will continue to rise in demand as these items provide a perfect opportunity for people on the go.
“More versatile products will continue to be in demand as long as they are convenient for shoppers to just grab and go,” Lotito says.