As more Americans search for 'premium' meats, US sales of Prosciutto di Parma grew 39% in last three years

Photo: iStock/barol16

In the competitive meat category, US shoppers are increasingly eyeing premium options—a momentum which Prosciutto di Parma is riding on.

Numbers from the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, a consortium of 150 producers producing 9 million branded hams under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin, reveal that export volume to the US was at 623,000 hams, a 7% increase over 2015.

It’s another year of export growth to the US, according to the consortium—packaged pre-sliced ham sales in the U.S. market grew compared to the previous year, with a 39% increase in the period between 2013 and 2016. Pre-sliced prosciutto currently accounts for 19% of total Prosciutto di Parma production.

Total hams produced for export out of Italy was roughly 2.8 million hams, a couple million short of the consortium’s long-term production goals.

"We have set ourselves a very ambitious target, which is to bring exports of Prosciutto di Parma up to the three million-mark in a short span of time,” said Vittorio Capanna, President of the Consortium.

“Competition in the global marketplace is certainly a complex challenge but we are proud of the results we’ve achieved over the last decade and look forward to continuing this forward momentum into the next decade.”

Authenticity: An appeal to US consumers

There are multiple macrotrends in the US that is boosting Prosciutto di Parma’s increasing popularity, such as authenticity and a simple label, a spokesperson from the consortium told FoodNavigator-USA.

Reliable meat source and 'free-from' claims are increasingly more salient in consumers’ minds when shopping for meat. Though cured-meats received bad press in the past few years due to its addition into the WHO’s potential carcinogen list, evoking a pastoral, Old World association, as done with Prosciutto di Parma’s branding, boosts the products so-called authenticity. A recent report published by Packaged Facts revealed that US consumers today are willing to pay more money for meat products, especially if they see it as premium, or in other words, perceived to be of higher quality with better health impact.

“Prosciutto di Parma is a geographically protected Italian food (PDO) with a rich history. It provides a convenient product with a simple label: Pork and sea salt,” the spokesperson aid. “There are no nitrates, nitrites or other preservatives people are looking to limit.”

Additionally, the pre-sliced format goes hand-in-hand with the increased mobility of today’s US consumers, which has spawned convenient meat products seen in the thriving meat snack category. In fact, the North American Meat Institute found that there is continued growth in convenience meats.

The consortium’s spokesperson added: “[Prosciutto di Parma] is a truly all-natural and authentic food meeting consumer demands for authenticity, convenience, cleaner labels and simple ingredients.”

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