The worldwide cured meat market

Cured meat, in raw, salted or cooked form, is a big hit with a lot of people all over the world. Often considered a “pleasure” product, it can be consumed in a variety of forms, on-the-go in a sandwich, as a starter or as a main dish.

Europe is a prime market for cured meat, with market turnover exceeding €62 billion and production of 14.5 million tonnes, according to data from IFIP-Eurostat-PRODCOM.

In this zone, Germany tops the list of cured meat producing countries. It accounts for a quarter of all European production. Next come Italy (10% of European production), Spain, France and Poland (each with 9%), then the United Kingdom (8%).

While Germany produces mainly sausages, salami and smoked ham, Italy and Spain stand out with their renowned premium cured meat, in particular their ham (Parma, Aosta, Tuscany, San Daniele, Speck Alto Adige, serrano ham, Pata Negra, Culatello, etc.).

Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan are big enthusiasts of pork and are also among the leading export targets for cured and salted meats.

Meanwhile, the United States are particularly fond of Italian products, which have penetrated the market to the point of being essential and unavoidable. The Americans are especially keen on Parma ham, salami and mortadella.

Cured meat consumption in France

As an appetiser, as a starter, barbecued or quite simply during a meal, cured and processed meat is an essential part of French diets. Nearly all households (99.3%) purchase it and on average consume 30 kg per person and per year, for an annual budget of €303.

It should be added that consumers have a wide range of products at their disposal: in addition to cured and salted meat from abroad, France produces 450 types of different charcuterie, based on raw, cooked, salted, smoked or preserved meats, representing market value estimated at €6.7 billion.

New demands

The sector has seen a shift upmarket in recent years. Consumers are looking for high quality products reflecting the tastes and flavours of terroirs and distancing themselves from the unflattering image of meat products with high additive and fat content.

Consumers are also increasingly concerned by animal welfare. According to the barometer conducted by OpenedMind for FICT in 2018, animal welfare is indeed an important criterion for 85% of French people in their charcuterie buying practices.

As a result, the French cured and salted meat market has shrunk since 2015, having continuously grown for the 15 previous years. In 2017, sales dropped by 0.7% for the third year in a row.

In contrast, organic cured meat is seeing spectacular growth: in France, sales were estimated at €156 million in 2018, representing an 18.2% increase on the previous year, according to Interbev.

Cured pork meat

In the cured meat section, pork products reign over the rest. When French people eat pork (approximately 34 kg per year and per person), 70% of this is in the form of cured meat (dry sausage, cooked ham, cured ham, etc.) and only 30% in the form of fresh meat.

The same can be observed on the production side: out of the 1.2 million tonnes of products manufactured, 84% are pork-based, according to the French charcuterie federation. And more than 70% of pork produced is transformed into cured meat. It is mainly therefore charcuterie that drives the pork sector, and vice versa.

French consumers’ favourite cured meats

Cooked ham arrives at the top of French consumers’ shopping lists. It accounts for nearly a quarter of the national consumption of cured meat products.

These are followed by coarse grind sausages, lardons, pork belly and bacon, dry sausage, fine grind sausages and pate. At the bottom of the ranking, chicken-based cured meat only makes up 6% of total consumption, dry ham 4% and black and white pudding 3%.

Cured and salted meats at SIAL

Salted and cured meats were well represented at the 2022 edition of SIAL Paris by 128 exhibitors.

Ham, dry sausage, fresh sausage, dried meats, rillettes, pâté and other terrines from France and around the world (81% of cured and salted meat exhibitors are from outside France) are displayed to visitors, thereby providing a comprehensive view of the market and its latest new developments.

And to discover the innovations in the sector or promote a new salted or cured meat product, professionals can rely on SIAL Innovation, the exhibition’s trend observatory, which at each edition pays tribute to the most innovative products in a range of categories.

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