top of page

Ethnic flavors spice up meat and cheese options in the deli

GLOBAL Cuisines

By Kathleen Furore

A trip to the in-store deli at the Treasure Island grocery store in Chicago’s upscale Lincoln Park neighborhood uncovers a wealth of meats, cheeses and prepared food inspired by international fare.


There’s teriyaki, cajun and chipotle-flavored chicken breast; a variety of Italian specialty meats including mortadella and capocola; cheeses including 3 Pepper Colby Jack; and prepared tamales and sweet chile fried rice in the cold prepared foods case.


It is a small but significant sampling that illustrates the growing importance of global cuisines in the deli—a sampling that underscores why meat and cheese vendors should consider adding similar items to their inventories.

Dietz & Watson is one vendor tapping into the popularity of global fare.


The company offers Chipotle Pepper Breast of Turkey infused with chipotle peppers, Italian Style Turkey Breast flavored with natural Italian spices, Sriracha Chicken Breast, and Italian Style Roast Beef prepared with natural seasonings, traditional Italian spices and a hint of Romano cheese.

Manufacturers Answer the Call for Global Flavors

– Rachel Kerr, public relations manager at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board 

"An increasingly diverse, connected world has no doubt generated strong consumer awareness  of and demand for ethnic and fusion foods at both restaurants and retailers.”

Boar’s Head is another. That company’s ethnic-inspired meats, which grace Treasure Island’s deli case, are relatively new entries to the retail marketplace.


Launched in May 2016, the company’s Ichiban Teriyaki Style Chicken Breast is an oven roasted, boneless, skinless chicken breast coated with a teriyaki-style glaze “infused with distinct notes of ginger, garlic and brown sugar” that was “inspired by the ancient teriyaki cooking style of Japanese master chefs,” according to a press release announcing the slicing deli meat’s debut.


It is just one of Boar’s Head’s 14 deli meats, cheeses and condiments inspired by global flavors and cuisines. Other products include the Chipotle Chicken Breast “infused with the deep, rich smokiness of chipotle peppers and layered with habanero chili powder,” and the Cajun Chicken Breast “coated with a signature blend of Cajun spices including garlic, chili pepper and paprika.”


The Boar’s Head cheese category includes Bold Italian Style Herb Coated Mozzarella Cheese coated with a blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, bell pepper and garlic; Jalapeño Pepper Jack; Bold 3 Pepper Colby Jack; Cream Havarti with Jalapeño; and Chipotle Gouda, “an infusion of smoky chipotle spice and zesty peppers in buttery Gouda, hand-rubbed with a rich chipotle powder” that was inspired by coastal Veracruz.


“The global flavor trend continues to dominate the foodscape and Boar’s Head is delighted to bring new, interesting and complex flavor profiles to the American deli with our Boar’s Head Bold line,” said Elizabeth Ward, director of communications for Boar’s Head Brand, in an announcement about the new flavor profiles. “Boar’s Head first introduced the Bold line in 2012 and we have continued to successfully innovate and grow this line over the past four years. These newest Bold product introductions serve to demonstrate our brand’s commitment to exceptional quality, while satisfying consumer interest for making international tastes accessible and convenient.”

Cheese, too, is taking a decidedly global turn.

“Many Wisconsin cheesemakers are embracing the ethnic and global cuisine trend with the debut of new full flavored cheeses and specialty lines,” reports Rachel Kerr, public relations manager at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), when asked if WMMB has seen an increased interest in global/ethnic cuisines.

Sweet Fire Mango Jack from Kindred Creamery; La Bottega de BelGioioso, a new line of Italian cheese from BelGioioso; Sartori Citrus Ginger BellaVitano®; Red Apple Cheese Mango Habanero Gouda; and Specialty Cheese Company’s line of Hispanic cheeses including panela, asadero, cotija, and queso fresco are among examples Kerr cites.

In fact, 2017 promises to be a year during which new globally-inspired spice blends—including those reminiscent of Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean— join the mix of flavors infusing cheeses, according to WMMB.


“An increasingly diverse, connected world has no doubt generated strong consumer awareness  of and demand for ethnic and fusion foods at both restaurants and retailers,” notes Kerr.

According to recent forecasts from the National Restaurant Association, consumers are demanding more ethnically-inspired menu items across the board, many of which incorporate ethnic cheeses. Some of the fastest growing cheeses on restaurant menus are:


  1. Panela (Mexican origin)

  2. White Cheddar (U.S./English origin)

  3. Burrata (Italian and U.S. origins)

  4. String Cheese (U.S. origin)

  5. Smoked Gouda (Holland and Netherlands origin)

  6. Asadero (Mexican origin)

  7. Asiago (Italian origin)

  8. Havarti (Denmark and the U.S. origins)

  9. Mexican Cheese (Mexican origin)

  10. Queso Fresco (Mexican origin)

  11. Chihuahua (Mexican origin)

  12. Gouda (Netherlands origin)

  13. Alpine-Style (originated in Switzerland as gruyere)

  14. Cotija (Mexican origin)

  15. Feta (Greek origin)


Source: Technomic’s MenuMonitor Q4 2016 vs. Q4 2015

Sandwich Trends Reflect Global Influences

The Cuban

The influence of global flavors can be seen in the kinds of sandwiches topping the list of those that have appeared with the most frequency at restaurants nationwide.


According to Datassential statistics provided to Modern Deli Mobile by the National Turkey Federation (NTF), the past four years have seen significant growth in the presence of sandwiches with ethnic profiles.


According to Datassential, the most-menued sandwiches at restaurants that serve sandwiches include the Asian Bahn Mi (1.9% of those restaurants offer the Banh Mi, an increase of 374% over the past 4 years); the Mexican Torta (1.0% penetration and 126.20% increase); the Mexican Cemita (.10% penetration and 50.80% increase); and the Cuban (7.4% penetration and 25.30% increase). The data is based on an analysis of 55,999 items on 3,439 distinct restaurant menus nationwide.


These recent examples of menu penetration and corresponding growth  show how trends typically start. It is the way, industry experts say, that trends usually begin their journey.

The Asian Bahn Mi

bottom of page