ANAHEIM, CALIF. — The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, Madison, Wis., held its annual expo on June 4-6 in Anaheim, Calif. Next-generation snacks were plentiful, and ranged from dual-compartment dome-shaped cups housing focaccia on the bottom and marinara for dipping on top to individually wrapped skewers of fully cooked seasoned meat. Likely the most familiar snack component was some form of cheese, have it be a ball, cube, roll, stick or string.


With 10,280 attendees from 30 countries, the sold-out IDDBA 17 expo consisted of 2,048 booths representing 825 companies. The expo included an abundance of educational experiences, such as fresh and trending marketplace ideas to help retailers engage with on-the-go and convenience store shoppers. This encompassed everything from demos on charcuterie, cheese and olive bars to grocerant-style areas where attendees could order food and have it delivered to their table. 

The educational program at IDDBA 17 included innovative merchandising ideas, for example, selling snacking skewers of cheese combined with olives or charcuterie in the deli or salad bar.

Fresh snack ideas was a dominant theme. Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minn., showcased its meats and cheeses in eye-catching formats. For example, there were charcuterie cups that started with phyllo-dough bowls filled with a roll of calabrese salumi, a roll of peppered double-smoked ham, a stick of sharp cheddar and a gherkin pickle. They also offered antipasto picks featuring hot soppressata, Havarti cheese, roasted red grapes and Kalamata olives.  

Exhibitors showed how meat and cheese can be combined in artistic ways for premium positioning in the deli department.

“We know that the snacking trend is going strong, with only about 14% of consumers eating just breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to The NPD Group,” said Rachel Kerr, public relations manager, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Madison, Wis. “For most of us, snacking throughout the day is a part of our regular routine, and cheese makes an excellent choice for a healthy snack. If you’re looking for a snack that’s minimally processed and nutrient dense, cheese is a smart choice. The average serving of cheese contains 10 grams of protein and 20% of your daily calcium needs. Pair it with fresh fruit, crunchy vegetables, hearty crackers or lean meat for a filling snack that will leave you feeling great.” 

Rachel Kerr, public relations manager, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

For convenience reasons, a lot of that pairing is being done by deli department operators. Meat and cheese manufacturers are also equipped to make snacking combo packs on their end. They are receiving support from dairy councils and dairy boards across the country. 

“The California Milk Advisory Board spent the better part of 2016 developing a long-range plan, and snacking emerged as one of four key growth platforms,” said Bob Carroll, vice-president, business development, California Milk Advisory Board, Tracy, Calif. “A common theme that surfaced from research with consumers in the U.S., Mexico and even Asia, was the nearly universal fit of cheese as a nutritious, portable and delicious snack.

“The category is growing behind innovations for both children and adults. Fun forms, shapes and new packaging are attracting children; new portion packs with other healthy and high-protein complements like dried meats and nuts add variety for adults.”  

Bob Carroll, vice-president, business development, California Milk Advisory Board

For example, artisanal salumi manufacturer Busseto Foods Inc., Fresno, Calif., showcased an array of “made in California” meat and cheese packs. The California Snackin’ pack is either meat and cheese, or meat, cheese and nuts. There’s also a California Party Pack containing meat, cheese and nuts. The meats are all made in the dry San Joaquin Valley using centuries-old recipes and time-honored techniques to provide authentic aged Italian flavors. The nuts are either almonds or pistachios, both grown in California. The cheeses are made with “Real California Milk,” with packages sporting the seal.

Prime Foods L.L.C., manufacturers of eggs and egg products, recognizes the value of pairing hard-cooked peeled eggs with cheese and other protein-packed foods, such as nuts and hummus. The company offers three- and five-compartment packs that contain these foods. The snack packs provide 13 grams of protein, while the larger meal packs contains 25 to 32 grams.

“Consumers are returning to wholesome, real food,” Mr. Carroll said. “They realize that the idea of ‘no and low-fat’ as healthy was a mistake. Cheese is an ideal snack with no compromises.”