The meat industry is overcoming the pandemic with flying colours and, despite the initial dislocations, production has returned to grow by another 1.6% during the first half of 2021, with a volume exceeding 3.8 Mt, according to the Map data. Consumption in the country also remains above pre-sanitary crisis levels and, although it does not achieve the record results of 2020, it is up 7% in value, according to the consulting firm Kantar. Only fresh meat exports show negative values for the accumulated period between January and October 2021, dragged down by the fall in pork sales outside the country, basically due to the withdrawal of authorization to export to China to seven large domestic producers.
In this scenario, the meat sector has once again placed innovation at the core of its development and reinforcement strategy for consumers and end customers, with a view to responding to the new trends that have emerged in the post-covid environment. Therefore, values such as health, convenience and pleasure are emphasized in the new launches, three of the main drivers left behind by the confinements and the lower spending in the restaurant industry due to the restrictions imposed. To give some examples, in the healthy line, Embutidos del Centro (Emcesa) has presented two new types of black pudding, rice and onion, in which it has replaced pork fat with olive oil and other oils rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Meanwhile, Campofrío has reduced the salt and fat content of more than 130 cooked ham, chorizo, salchichón, longaniza and lacón products of the brands 'Campofrío', 'Navidul', 'Revilla' and 'Óscar Mayer'.
The ham producer Airesano has also advanced in its healthy development with the launching of cured shoulder without nitrates or nitrites with D.O. Teruel, a product presented in sliced format, the real protagonist of 2020 after the cessation of activity for some weeks of the slicing counters. In this latter category, the focus is shifting to the preparation of recipes with a higher percentage of meat and the replication of the traditional cut. This is the case of the new ranges of Campofrío ('Como de Charcutería'), ElPozo ('Corte Fresco') and Tello ('Esencia' and 'Instantes').
In search of restaurant spending
The shift in spending on leisure and catering to the home and the increase in domestic snacking has led Casademont to extend its snacking range with a new line of 'rolls' that combine different varieties of cheese wrapped in cold meats or Serrano ham. Also, as a substitute for out-of-home consumption, Campofrío has launched 'Navidul Picoteo', a line comprising mini-loaf format references of Iberian cebo ham and shoulder in 70 to 75 g packages. Iberian hams have been another of the most booming families in the last two years, with double-digit growth in Spanish households, which has resulted in countless launches, highlighting the cases, the more artisan cuts and reduced weights, such as those starring Villar, Covap, Bell España, Aljomar, Nico Jamones and Vall Companys.
In the fresh category, the ready-to-eat proposals or the most premium ranges are growing. This is the case of the 'Directo al micro' line presented by Roler, a company of the Costa Food group, a novelty close to the ready-to-eat dish that integrates marinated chicken and vegetables -separated in a compartment- and is prepared in the carton pack itself in the microwave. Or the range of 5th range dishes prepared by Carnes Félix, with recipes such as barbecue ribs, pork cheeks confit, roast pork knuckles or roast chicken wings. On the gourmet side, highlights include the national Angus yearling line that El Encinar de Humienta has incorporated into Alcampo's shelves; the 'Foodies' range recently launched by Campofrío, consisting of two varieties of fresh sausages, with Duroc pork raw material, in the varieties of caramelized onion and another with boletus with a touch of truffle; and the new ElPozo Alimentación hamburger, from the 'Burguer ElPozo King' range, made with 100% Angus beef.
A new veggie era
The veggie threat may finally become an opportunity for the meat industry. It should not be forgotten that Spain has become the fifth largest EU market in the business of vegetable alternatives to meat products, having recorded a growth of 19% for the cumulative TAM to January 2021 according to the consultancy firm IRI, five times the average increase in the market for processed meat products. The latest to make a move in this business has been the ‘totaler’ supplier Incarlopsa, which has embarked on an R&D project to develop a simile of traditional cooked ham from vegetable bases, thus meeting the needs of vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian consumers.
And it was not the only one. Embotits Espina and 'La Selva' have also taken steps in this dynamic segment by launching veggie charcuterie ranges. The former launched the brand 'Vecon', a line of vegan bacon, 100% vegetable, made from peas and enriched with vitamin B12; and another range of vegetable cold cuts based on egg whites from chickens raised on the ground under the name 'Espinavert'. For its part, 'La Selva' incorporated the 'Altervego' brand, made up of three references that emulate bacon, cold cuts and turkey fillets. Likewise, M.R.M. 2 has started marketing a new veggie sliced mortadella, while Goikoa is preparing the launch of a vegan chorizo for 2022. Meanwhile, 'La Piara', a year after presenting a new catalog of natural spreads, has launched a new plant-based product for vegan consumers with the presentation of vegetable fillings for sandwiches and a 100% vegetable pâté, both of which emulate the taste of meat.
As part of its strategy to launch products based on alternative proteins, Embutidos F. Martínez R. presented a range of fresh sausages with 50% meat and 50% vegetables, superfoods and ancient cereals, chicken, quinoa, oats, and turmeric; chicken, broccoli and rice, and pork and pea protein, under the brand 'Enjoy Martínez'. Finally, the poultry producer Productos Florida, following in the footsteps of 'Aldelis' in 2020, has presented the 'Hi-Vegs' line, a brand of its 'plant-based' proposal that will be made up of various meat and chicken products, such as strips, nuggets, hamburgers, meatballs, and croquettes, among other products.