Authentic Charcuterie

Salamis, chorizo and all kinds of Continental meats are becoming more popular with discerning British shoppers. Keren Sall reveals how a carefully tailored deli in your shop could pay huge dividends


Butchers are increasingly moving into the delicatessen sector, keen to emulate the success achieved by deli owners and tap into this lucrative market.

Surrey butcher Kenneth Eve, who has a shop in Ewell, found the perfect opportunity to set up a deli when the shop next door went up for sale 14 months ago. He snapped it up and now his wife runs the deli side, all sited in the new premises.

The move also enabled him to separate cooked and raw meat production, with pies now made in the deli. Fresh bread is bought in from a baker who makes it the old-fashioned way with flour and yeast. “It is not bread that is bought in and baked-off,” reveals Kenneth. The deal also means that the baker buys the meat for his sausage rolls and pasties from Kenneth – a win-win for both parties.

As Britons travel abroad, their tastes have become more adventurous, and they are eager to try authentic Continental meat. Mintel’s report ‘Cooked Meat and Deli Products UK’, published at the beginning of this year, highlighted this trend, noting that new product development in Continental meats has focused on authenticity, as this is recognised as a good selling point.

Kenneth sells Parma ham and chorizo sausage, but has given up on salamis. “We tried salamis, but people can buy them cheaper in a supermarket. We just cannot compete with them,” says Kenneth.

Other products carefully chosen for his deli include Woodbridge chutney, Forest Product jams and Stokes sauces. Cooking sauces stocked are from Holme Farm Foods and, to accompany hot or cold meat, he stocks Jules & Sharpie hot pepper jellies, which have all won Great Taste Awards. The jellies are handmade, using 100% natural ingredients, and contain no additives, salt, gluten or GM content.

John Davidson, owner of Davidsons Specialist Butchers in Inverurie, is planning to follow in Kenneth’s steps this month when he opens a delicatessen next door. He says it will be a veritable haven of mouthwatering delights, such as French bread, oatcakes and cooked meats, including roast pork and roast beef.

However, while he will make some Continental meats, the products that are difficult and time-consuming to produce, John will buy in. “There is no point in trying to spend years trying to produce a product and then get it wrong. We tried to make Parma ham, but decided in the end it was better to buy it.”

However, John will be producing chorizos and salamis for his deli shop in September. Recipes he will use came from three Italians who are involved with the Slow Food Movement. “They came over and showed us how to make these products from start to finish. Chorizos and salamis are relatively easy to make. You can make different sizes and weights, as well as creating different flavours by adding pepper, fennel seeds or chilli. You cam make the product so it is coarsely or finely cut.”

John also makes his own pastrami, as it is easy to produce. “We cure and bake it ourselves,” he says. His tip on stocking deli products is to ensure you have a good knowledge of your customer base.


Expanded offer

With recycling, environment and waste high on the agenda, Anthony Rowcliffe & Son has been quick off the mark to help butchers be seen to be doing their bit. So Kenneth Eve was one of the first butchers to offer oils and vinegars in the supplier’s refillable bottles and stand-up racks. Both the speciality oil and vinegars come in 10 different flavour profiles, such as olive oil with rosemary, basil and garlic. The vinegars sound even more tantalising, with flavours such as raspberry and fig, which marry well with roasted pork and lamb, according to Stephen Smith, sales director at Anthony Rowcliffe. “The refillable olive oils and vinegars look stunning and add theatre to the butcher’s shop. Normally butchers look on deli operations as an add-on,” he says.

Smith says his company will supply stands and ampoule glass bottles with nozzles in sizes ranging from 100ml to 500ml. “It means people can choose a different flavour next time around, such as chocolate, orange and cinnamon vinegar.” Butchers can link into this feature with loose olives. Anthony Rowcliffe & Son supplies 15 different types of olives from Greece and Italy. “When people can help themselves to olives, invariably stockists find their sales shoot up by 100%,” says Smith.

Themes and concepts should be explored, Smith believes, as they boost sales, and supermarkets have already discovered this. “Spanish food is increasingly taking off as people come back from their holidays and hanker for the simple, but varied choice offered by tapas.”

That is why sales of Serrano ham are rising, says Smith. “You have to give your customers ideas they can explore when it comes to entertaining. For a simple dinner party, all they need is sliced meats and Manchego cheese, which is made with sheep’s milk and quince paste. The chorizo sausage can be chopped into cubes and then fried in sherry vinegar.”

In recent years, supermarkets have been following butchers’ lead by sourcing more regional and British products to show their commitment to local foods – evidenced by the success of their premium ranges. The regions, in turn, are blooming with new food businesses you won’t find in the big four. From Cornwall, there are various products worth looking at, such as Cornish apple juices and cider from Cornish Orchards, produced using the harvests of small and old orchards throughout the West Country. Cornish Meadow Preserves, both traditional and modern, are also worth seeking out. Favourites such as marmalade made with lemon and lavender sit next to innovations such as strawberry and chilli jam and the intriguing lemon and gin jam.

Regional snacks are also a favourite, so gorgonzola and red onion crisps, made by Cornish family Stuart’s Crisps, are sure to attract some sales. Or if you are in Lincolnshire, you may consider opting for Pipers Crisps, which come in five flavours, including Biggleswade sweet chilli, sea salt and Indian black pepper.

The free-from niche

Other trends worth exploiting and ones which many butchers are already embracing include products free from additives and preservatives. The choice of products that are lower in fat and have fewer unhealthy fats and preservatives is growing, as people shrink from factory farming, instead looking to foods that are produced naturally.

Food exhibitions are a great place for sourcing such products. Small-scale producers are passionate about their products and only too eager to help you market their products in an effective way, because, as your sales grow, so do theirs. Trealy Farm in Monmouth, set up just two-and-a half years ago by directors James Swift and Graham Waddington, is one such business. Both men enjoy food, run family farm businesses and wanted to make a career out of food, so they learned how to make charcuterie products. Swift says the duo picked their skills up all over Europe. “We have been to Italy, Spain, Germany and France, naturally, as my mother is French,” says Swift. “In Italy we trained in a town called Norcia which has a particular tradition [for producing cured meats and sausages].”

Germany was also chosen as a training destination, as Swift believes the Germans are good at the technical side of the business. “In Germany, you have to train for three years and pass exams,“ he says.The result is that the duo combine traditional methods of curing, smoking, and air-drying with innovation and technology, inspired by their training with charcuterie makers across Europe. “We make British and Continental-style fresh and cooked sausages, as well as traditionally cured bacon and hams,” he says.

Trealy Farm’s range also includes air-dried products, rarely made in the UK, such as chorizos, air-dried ham, loins and pancetta and a range of salamis, including a lightly smoked snack-sized salami and cabanas for lunchboxes. “We don’t duplicate products made elsewhere exactly. We take an idea from, here and there and produce it to fit British consumers and British pigs,” says Swift.

All of Trealy Farm’s products are sourced from pigs from their own farm or other local farms. “All are free-ranging, fed a natural diet and are traditional breeds, primarily Gloucester Old Spot, Welsh and Saddleback. We sell to Ludlow Food Centre in Axminster at Broomfield and River Cottage Stores among others,” explains Swift.

Not all butchers have the space or capital outlay to invest in equipment that is needed to produce air-dried meats, as different stages of the air-drying process require different humidity and temperature, which is why some prefer to source it from companies like Trealy Farm. Another marketing tool butchers can use, as a hook to sell locally-produced products, is provenance and the fact that these products are manufactured by producers who pay a fair trade price for their pigs. This has an appeal for consumers who want to be seen to be supporting British farmers. With the influx of Polish nationals into the UK, Poland is the next country Swift and Waddington have their sights set on visiting, to find out how they produce charcuterie products.

Tailored approach

Seasonality and tailoring of products to your customer base are extremely important if you want to make a success of them, says Sally Assinder, fine food manager for Highgrove Fine Food. Products that were shunned in the past because they were believed to be unhealthy and fatty are enjoying a revival. These include duck and goose fat. “There is not enough of it produced in England, so we have to buy it from Germany. Our duck fat comes from Ireland.”

She says condiments that accompany meat are always popular, as they give the consumers a one-stop shop when they buy their meat. “We find casserole sauces, pâtés and liquid stocks are also popular.” Ham glazes sell well at Christmas, as does cranberry sauce, which Assinder plans to introduce this Christmas.

If your customers are foodies who love anything Spanish, Delicioso products, from a company set up by British woman Kate Shirley-Quirk and her Spanish husband, are worth exploring. As well as salamis and black puddings it offers Lomo cured pig loin from Serrano pigs. “We spotted a gap in the market and decided to plug it, as there were few distributors doing purely Spanish products,” says Shirley-Quirk.

Non-meat products which sell well, she says, include olive oils and vinegar and, for summer, Gazpacho, which comes in tetrapaks and bottles. “We also sell terracotta dishes, so people can have the full tapas experience. It is a nice alternative, with lots of dishes as opposed to your meat and veg. Sometimes people don’t serve a full meal,” she explains.

Nowadays, consumers are just as keen to try northern European products as those from the south, which is why Continental Cottage is bringing its 15-20 salamis from Germany to the UK market. Previously sold in Italy and Germany, proprietor Frank Siehl thinks there is a place for his product here, both the standard and gourmet ranges.

Next month he will be airing the products at the Royal Highland Show. The gourmet salami come with green pepper, sweet paprika, cheese, and black pepper or caramelised onion. Chorizos are flavoured with juniper or come in a non-alcoholic whisky and rum flavour, so you can get the taste of alcohol without the effect.

Staffordshire-based Cottage Delight also has a cornucopia of offerings for independent butchers. New products include peppercorn sauces and array of curry sauces in bottles, which range from mild to quite hot. Non-meat products include savoury biscuits and award-winning fudges, which are ideal for shops located in touristy destinations such as Chester and Buxton.

If you want to stock smoked products, you might want to consider those supplied by Black Mountain Smokery, a family gourmet food business, based in Crickhowell, South Wales, in the heart of the Black Mountains which won True Taste Awards in 2005 and 2006. Its smokery produces a wide range of traditionally naturally smoked foods and smoked food gifts, including smoked salmon, trout, haddock, duck, chicken and cheese. All food is purchased from British farms and guaranteed free from all artificial colouring, flavouring and preservatives. It also supplies a range of cooked meats, such as Smoked Gressingham duck breast and smoked sausage.

Kenneth Eve has taken the plunge into the delicatessen world and John Davidson will be getting a taste of it when he opens his this month. It shows that, whatever part of the UK you are in, there is new deli territory to explore, which, hopefully, will boost your coffers.