Weighed packages and tray packages respond to convenience and hygiene demands. The challenge is delivering premium products to customers in these formats. Eggs and fresh cuts of white meat are also doing well.
If it's not a boom, it's close. According to IRI’s surveys for TUTTOFOOD, sales of meat packaged by weight across Italian retailers increased by double figures in 2020 — 13.4% in value — bordering on the billion euro mark (943 million). This increase was even more pronounced in December, a 14.8% rise with 87 million euro in sales that month alone. Quality and convenience are they key features to exploit, but lately so are hygiene and safety, all striving to compensate for forced eating-out business closures. Especially for flagship products.
“Occupying a premium niche, like porchetta di Ariccia PGI does, has its pros and cons — says Augusto Leoni, owner of Leoni Randolfo & C. – On one hand, we are less bound to fluctuations in the mass market, but on the other, at a time like this consumers are looking at essential products. That’s why we’ve been working to incentivize continuous consumption for some time now: we were among the first to offer porchetta in tray packages, a great choice in light of customers’ greater focus on hygiene and safety at the moment, and for two years now we’ve been strongly promoting e-commerce through online platforms. We encourage online trade with relevant communication across social media and, in 2020, we quadrupled our sales through digital channels. These two developments have enabled us to compensate for the decline in normal and restaurant trade. We believe many of the changes brought about by the pandemic are structural, particularly the boom in e-commerce, and we will continue to work in this direction."
Will retail make up for the eating-out industry?
The loss of restaurant trade, potentially compensated for by Retail services, is also highlighted by Andrea Maroni of the Orma Group who, under the Bacalini brand, produces typical local specialities such as galantine. "Putting 2020 and its problems behind us, a recovery in food is expected, the restaurant industry included because of its huge importance in this sector. Reopening will be gradual and end consumer habits will change. Emphasis will be placed on healthy products, a trend seen emerging pre-pandemic, the use of salt will be limited, antibiotic-free raw materials will be used for processing meat and, last but not least, zero mile materials. Regional products will, as always, play an important role. The struggle will be getting these products to end consumers with more convenient packaging, there will definitely be an inclination for takeaways. We’re getting ready for this new landscape, enhancing services for our customers without neglecting the fact that we always need to be in the high-end range”.
Bacalini also produces white meat, a commodity that has been at the centre of a positive trend for years. According to data from Unaitalia, the trade association, the first quarter of 2020 saw considerable growth in retail consumption of white meat (+8.9%) and eggs (+14.1%), the latter being one of the most purchased products during lockdown. Fresh cuts (breast, thigh, rump, etc.) account for 60% of purchases, but breaded and pre-prepared cuts also gained 10% in volume. So it seems the meat sector always has another trick up its sleeve, further demonstrated by its central role in TUTTOFOOD 2021, taking place at Fiera Milano from October 22 to 26.