The word may not exactly roll off the tongue, but your customers have developed a sharp taste for it — and they’re only getting hungrier.
What is it?
The French word, pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree,” describes a wide range of meat products, many of which are cured, and it’s a category that is fast growing in the United States. From grocery store shelves to restaurant menus to social media, charcuterie is having a renaissance as the kind of authentic, experiential meal that today’s consumers are yearning for.
Five years ago, a consumer heading to the grocery store for cold cuts or a party platter might stop by the deli for some sliced Swiss cheese and Virginia ham. Today, that consumer might be looking for organic fig spread, Provencal olives and Columbus Craft Meats’ Calabrese salami made from whole cuts of hand-trimmed pork and slow aged at least 21 days.
Charcuterie and the deliciously gorgeous boards used to serve it have become so popular that Instagram influencers are quitting their jobs to design colorful charcuterie boards full-time.
Behind much of this renaissance of charcuterie is a century-old company in California that helped put craft meats and charcuterie on the map in the U.S. all those years ago, and continues to delight consumers to this day. Columbus Craft Meats, founded by Italian immigrants Peter Domenici and Enrico Parducci in San Francisco in 1917, offers an array of premium craft products that can transform any retailer’s deli into exactly the kind of charcuterie destination that today’s shoppers are seeking
“Almost every new American restaurant is putting charcuterie on menus because of the artisanal qualities, the vibrant amount of colors and items you can put onto a board. All of that is captivating to today’s consumer,” said Evan Inada, “Master Charcutier” and Customer Marketing Manager at Columbus Craft Meats. “Charcuterie is a great way to draw more customers into the deli.”
According to the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s “What’s in Store 2019” report, “The deli department shines as a true growth engine for the store.” And the growth engine for all of that deli department growth going forward might well come from premium products such as charcuterie.
INSIGHTS with Evan Inada
Can you explain how you define “charcuterie” and how it has evolved into the “craft charcuterie movement” of today?
A: I have always respected charcuterie as the ultimate culinary platform to highlight artisan craftsmanship. Charcuterie has evolved from its traditional French appreciation for cured and cooked meats to become a culinary art form focused on flavor, pairings and eye appeal. A dynamic charcuterie board becomes a visual showstopper that sparks conversation, eating and further sharing of charcuterie through social media’s foodie culture. The focus of charcuterie is still centered on the meat and cheese but the options of accoutrements that play a supporting role on the board have evolved to a beautiful combination of flavors and textures that take on the personality of the charcutier.
How much is consumer demand growing for salame and charcuterie in general in the U.S.?
A: Consumer demand is constantly growing as shoppers understand that charcuterie is the perfect item to entertain at any occasion. When shopping for charcuterie, the craftsmanship and flavor that specialty salami brings to a board justifies price point in the consumer’s mind. I love the role that salumi plays in charcuterie because every slice of cured meat is showcased in its purity during the eater’s first bite and quickly becomes a catalyst that builds flavor bridges to everything else on the charcuterie board. Since salami is dry cured, the consumer continues to enjoy the flavor of the salame while building additional layers of flavor when paired with the perfect cheese, nut or olive. Sales have increased by over 10% in the last year at locations that put a focus on charcuterie in their deli and specialty cheese departments.
How are you educating your customers about the charcuterie movement?
A: Our Columbus team works hard to educate our customers about the charcuterie movement by being masters of our craft. By sharing our understanding of all the delicious elements that make up a charcuterie board, customers can enhance their consumers’ charcuterie experience when shopping for the right mix of specialty products. By educating our customers on the flavor notes each charcuterie pairing highlights, we advise our customers how to understand the meat, cheese, fruit and olive pairings that complete the perfect bite. By educating through flavor, our customers understand the structure needed to build their own charcuterie masterpiece to further the charcuterie movement to the masses.
Visit www.columbusmeats.com or call 510-921-3400.
That’s because today’s consumer is looking for premium food products that deliver on the three key factors that charcuterie is known for: experential: Charcuterie creates a memorable and positive experience that can be shared with loved ones or on social media; convenience: Charcuterie is a portable or snackable food that travels well for the on-the-go consumer; and authenticity: Charcuterie, with its history and traditions, is seen as simple and “real food” with an authentic story.
Consumers, and especially younger shoppers, are increasingly willing to spend extra for experiential, convenient and authentic foods — and this is pushing the charcuterie category toward major growth and opportunity. Columbus Craft Meats makes products that not only meet but exceed all of those consumer expectations. The brand, with its story of authenticity and craftsmanship and its reputation for unsurpassed quality, excels at helping retailers offer these kinds of on-trend solutions for their customers.
“As retailers continue to push toward more of a food-first orientation and try to upscale their delis, charcuterie is a great way to do it,” said Holly LaVallie, Vice President of Marketing for Hormel, which owns Columbus Craft Meats. “Sections can be created at retail where the consumer can purchase different types of food pairings, and even pairings with craft beers. That’s where we really see the next generation of the category going.” LaVallie says Columbus Craft Meats works with retailers to bring charcuterie and pairings to the forefront and then give retailers ways to be able to bring these to life in-store.
Columbus Craft Meats charcuterie can solve many problems for shoppers, from serving as a lunchtime snack, to functioning as a starter course for a formal occasion, to being the centerpiece at a casual gathering.
“We want to help retailers create a one-stop shop for customers’ charcuterie needs,” Inada said. “People want to find foods for entertainment, and they want to have the grocerant experience. So creating a charcuterie destination in-store really allows the customer to make a restaurant-quality charcuterie board at home.” Creating a charcuterie destination in-store where retailers can cross-merchandise can also help drive sales across categories.
“Once you break it down into a charcuterie set or section, it can help retailers upsell the basket price to at least $50,” Inada said. “Consumers who shop for a small charcuterie board might spend about $50 to $60. A large charcuterie board for 10 to 12 people will cost at least $70. So that higher basket price really adds to the benefits of creating a charcuterie destination in-store.”
While there is a learning curve with charcuterie meats, hand selling and sampling removes barriers for shoppers. Columbus Craft Meats has an army of charcutiers who help shoppers sample the products and listen to the story behind the history of charcuterie, the artistry of curing, and the brand. The efforts help connect shoppers to the products in a meaningful way that adds to the Columbus story of authenticity. The company even offers an innovative module on its website that teaches consumers how to build the perfect charcuterie board.
To leverage the growth opportunity in the charcuterie movement, retailers should look at partnering with Columbus Craft Meats.
“Part of what we are trying to do at Columbus is make charcuterie easier for the average consumer. We have created a charcuterie experience for retailers that is easy, exciting and inviting for the consumer to absorb. By sharing our recipes, portfolio of charcuterie layouts, and overall knowledge of expertise around charcuterie, our customers have all the tools they need to make a beautiful charcuterie board at home.”