The Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) annual "State of the Specialty Food Industry Report" shows that the category's sales reached 148.7 billion last year, a 9.8 percent increase between 2016 and 2018. Sales, however, have slowed slightly as the market matures, with 5.4 percent growth in 2017 and 4.3 percent in 2018.
Although ecommerce sales represent less than 3 percent of today’s sales, online has grown 41 percent since 2016.
Specialty food continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry, outpacing the growth of all food at retail – 10.3 percent versus 3.1 percent.
“Diverse consumer lifestyles are taking specialty foods mainstream,” said Phil Kafarakis, president of the New York-based SFA. “To reach these consumers and increase their own sales, food merchants have embraced the vast assortment of specialty products. Our research outlines the momentum in the industry and provides a comprehensive picture of where we are today and how businesses can prepare for the future. Conducting important research like this is a part of our mission to champion specialty foods and help our members continue to innovate and succeed.”
Some key findings from the "State of the Specialty Food Industry" report for 2018 include:
The Top 5 Categories with the Highest Dollar Growth
- Refrigerated Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
- Rice Cakes
- Frozen Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
- Refrigerated RTD Tea and Coffee
The Top 5 Categories of Retail Sales
- Cheese and Plant-Based Cheese
- Frozen, Refrigerated Meat, Poultry, Seafood
- Chips, Pretzels, Snacks
- Non-RTD Coffee and Hot Cocoa
- Bread and Baked Goods
The Share of Consumers Buying Specialty Foods by Generation
- Gen-Z: 66 percent
- Millennials: 84 percent
- Gen X: 75 percent
- Baby Boomers: 69 percent
More takeaways from the report will be discussed during a session at the Summer Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, June 23-25.