Step aside, turkey, ham is here to make a name for itself as one of America’s favorite meats. This versatile protein is a proven favorite but is currently being reimagined when it comes to new ham glaze flavors, ham entrees, and preparations. This healthy meat, low in fat but high in vitamins and minerals, is a popular choice across a number of global cuisines. We’ve rounded up the latest findings when it comes to popular hams and the innovative ways that people are enjoying them.


Ham Flavor Trends

Historically, brown sugar and honey glazes monopolized ham preparation. However, today’s current market shows that restaurants, chefs, and home cooks are breaking the mold and experimenting by pairing ham with new flavors.


Top Meat Flavors

When it comes to meat flavors in general, consumers are leaning away from sweet flavors and going for something savory, or a mix of the two tastes. We notice that the top meat flavors are smoke, roasted, Italian, hickory, and applewood. Smoke-flavored products are soaring in popularity at the moment, while sweeter flavors, like maple, honey, and teriyaki, are becoming less popular.


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Top Ham Flavors

New launches in the ham industry include flavors like roasted/toasted, Italian, sweet, black pepper & smoke, and spicy. These emerging profiles are in the mix with classic ham flavors, like bourbon & maple, maplewood, and salted or cured ham. While looking at these flavor profiles, it’s interesting to note where each one is most used when it comes to different kinds of restaurants and eateries.

Taking a look at flavors that are proven favorites, like sweet ham, pineapple, and hickory, you’re more likely to find them in eateries that appeal to the masses, like mid-scale chains or quick-service restaurants. Fast-casual and casual dining chains are going with historically popular ham flavors, like barbecue or applewood. Higher-end restaurants are experimenting with innovative, chef-inspired flavors, including peanut and Brazilian ham. Lastly, it’s noted that independent or fine-dining eateries are charging ahead of the competition when it comes to using emerging ham flavors and ingredients, like rich, nutty Spanish ham.


Related: Social Listening: Top Flavor Trends 


New Ham Products on the Market

Blue Apron, a leader in meal delivery services, added the Holiday Ham Box to its menu this year. This meal kit can feed up to 10 people and features a brown sugar-honey glazed ham as the star, complete with a number of vegetarian side dishes to round off the meal. This useful kit makes it easy to prepare a delicious ham feast in the comfort of your own home.

Other seasonal offerings this past holiday season came from Pilot Flying J and The Earl of Sandwich. Pilot Flying J offered its first-ever Thanksgiving meal, also featuring brown sugar-honey glazed ham. To complete the meal, the ham was accompanied by mashed sweet potatoes and stuffing. The Earl of Sandwich offered the limited-edition Holiday Ham Sandwich, artisan bread piled high with ham, cheddar, cranberry sauce, and yams. These new holiday additions are interesting since they show that consumers are looking for more variety around the holidays.

One last menu item that was recently introduced is the SPAMtastic Sandwich from Biscuitville which features a number of pork products on one biscuit: SPAM canned ham, bacon, and sausage. This offered customers something new, as the only other biscuit sandwiches with ham feature country ham, a southern classic.


Going Global

Another interesting finding is that many consumers are leaning toward global cuisines and flavors. Over the last five years, people have shown interest in cooking sauces from various cuisines, including tomato, coconut milk, teriyaki, tikka masala, and sweet & sour sauces. Only a few of these are typically paired with ham, but shoppers and diners say that they’re interested in cooking or going out for international cuisine more and more.

Asian sauces and marinades, especially Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Indian, are most popular with younger consumers. Caribbean flavors are also of interest, such as Jamaican or Cuban. Of these flavors, most prefer a liquid sauce, with liquid marinades and dry sauce packets following. Dry marinade packets were the least popular option when it came to marinades and sauces.

While classic glazes and flavors will always be popular, new ways of preparing ham are on the rise, especially when it comes to seasonal and holiday dishes. This gives consumers more options to share a special meal with the ones they love.


To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here!

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