Americans Are Buying More Specialty Foods

U.S. consumers are buying more specialty foods, and Italian products are high on their list. One of those specialty Italian products that is finding its way onto more plates in restaurants and homes is Speck Alto Adige, a lightly smoked raw ham, produced in Italy's northern Alpine region and renowned for its mild, smoky, balanced, distinctive flavor and traditional heritage.

According to a recent survey by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc., and Mintel International, Americans of all ages nationwide are buying, eating, and discussing specialty food - premium-quality, distinctive foods.

The survey results, reported in Today's Specialty Food Consumer 2012, showed that 79 percent of specialty food consumers experiment with new recipes, and 79 percent say family food traditions are important to them. Italian and Mexican products were the top international food purchases. Shoppers cited taste as the number one reason for purchasing specialty foods, followed by recommendations from a friend or relative. Diet and health concerns also are influencing more purchases this year than last.

Choose Speck for a Healthier Diet

According to Alta Cucina, a New York-based epicurean society devoted to premium Italian cuisine and wines, "Speck Alto Adige serves as a healthier alternative to some other meats. Its high protein content and low cholesterol give it nutritional value and make it a healthy source of protein and a substitute for fish, meat and eggs."

As Italian-American Celebrity Rossella Rago explains on her Cooking with Nonna Web site, "Thanks in part to the strict fat/lean ratio of the selected pigs," Speck Alto Adige "serves as a healthy addition to any meal." It's also "a great source of amino acids."

Produced from lean, firm pork thighs, Speck Alto Adige derives its unique flavor from "a little salt, a little smoke and a lot of fresh air." Learn more about this high-quality product from the northern Italian Alps at

Speck Alto Adige Is a Ham with a Long Pedigree

In the region known as Alto Adige or South Tyrol, where Italy, Austria, and Switzerland meet, Mediterranean and northern European cultures, traditions, and cuisine unite. This beautiful region of Italy, with its verdant fields, family farms, picturesque villages, and stunning views of the Dolomite mountains, is home to one of the world's finest smoked, cured hams - Speck Alto Adige. The origins of Speck dates back to the year 1200.

Thanks to the expertise and determination of a number of families and firms based in the region, American consumers today can enjoy this versatile, delicious meat product whose production follows time-honored traditions. Following are examples of two companies whose products American consumers can find in stories or online.

The Recla family began making pork products in 1620, passing on traditional production techniques from generation to generation. After World War II, the family settled in Val Venosta, a valley in Alto Adige. After years of selling their product primarily in Italy, in 1985, Gino and Franz Recla launched an export business in Silandro, a picturesque market town in the heart of the valley. In 2004, Recla became the first company in Italy granted permission by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell Speck Alto Adige to the United States. The Reclas attribute their success in selling to the United States and other market to their high-quality standards, continuous investments that improve operations, reliable delivery, and trust worthy partnerships with importers and distributors, all based on the family's deep respect for their products, which are produced with passion and care.

In 1857 the Senfer butcher began producing and selling Speck in local markets in the Italian town of San Candido in Val Pusteria, a valley that runs from Austria into Italy. When Franz Senfer took over as president in 1967, he began converting the company from a local craft operation into a thriving industry. For 25 years, until early 2012, Franz Senfter served as president of the Consorzio Tutela Speck Alto Adige, the consortium of Speck Alto Adige producers.

In 1983, Senfer obtained an export license, and the company has continued to modernize and expand ever since. In the ensuing years, Senfter has established many joint ventures with Italian meat companies in order to market its products in Italy and worldwide, including a 2000 joint venture with Unibon, a cooperative in Reggio Emilia, which became known as Grandi Salumifici Italiani. Today, its Speck Alto Adige and other products can be found in many countries, including the United States, China, Japan, and almost every country in Europe. The company ranks second in the Italian processed meats sector and first in exports.

A "Specktacular" Fall Recipe
Here's a Specktacular" recipe for fall featuring Speck Alto Adige, pumpkin, and whole wheat pasta, from Chef John Granata of Camille's, a landmark Italian restaurant on historic Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island.

Pumpkin Parmigiano Wheat Fettuccine

  • 1 lb. whole wheat fettuccine
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lb. Speck Alto Adige
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (preferably homemade)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 to 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
  • ½ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.
  • Add a heaping tablespoon of salt to the water and drop the pasta in. Cook al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the speck ham and garlic.
  • Cook until garlic becomes golden brown. Add sage and let cook in oil for 2 minutes before adding cream and pumpkin together.
  • Stir together and add salt and pepper. Drain pasta and add to pan. Toss together with Reggiano Parmigiano and grated nutmeg.
  • Garnish dishes with toasted hazelnuts.
Watch Chef Granata demonstrate how to prepare this delicious seasonal dish on Channel 12's "The Road Show" and hear him
explain how Speck Alto Adige differs from its better-known "cousin," prosciutto:

Look for more serving suggestions, demonstrations on how to slice Speck Alto Adige, and additional information at
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