Specialty food remains one of the fastest-growing segments of the food business, according to the Specialty Food Assn.’s (SFA) annual "State of the Specialty Food Industry" report. Fueled by increasing interest from both consumers and retailers, total sales jumped 9.8% between 2016 and 2018 to reach $148.7 billion last year.
Further, SFA said specialty food sales outpaced the growth of all food at retail – up 10.3% versus 3.1%, respectively.
“Product innovation and the wider availability of specialty foods through mass-market outlets is playing a part in the industry’s success,” the report noted.
In fact, SFA relayed that sales through foodservice represented 22% of total sales, while retail took the top spot with 76% of sales. Also, although online sales represented less than 3% of total sales, this area has grown 41% since 2016.
“Diverse consumer lifestyles are taking specialty foods mainstream,” SFA president Phil Kafarakis said. “To reach these consumers and increase their own sales, food merchants have embraced the vast assortment of specialty products.”
SFA combines its annual research into a comprehensive “State of the Specialty Food Industry” report and also tracks categories and provides forecasts. Working with Mintel, the research explores where the current market stands, the opportunities and challenges it faces, where it is going based on sales forecasts in key categories and how the specialty food consumer is evolving.
The corresponding slideshow highlights key facts and figures from the latest research.