Study: Specialty food sales top $63B in 2009

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Study: Specialty food sales top $63B in 2009

Even with fewer new product introductions, the specialty food industry rang up $63.09 billion in sales in 2009, an increase of 2.9 percent over the previous year, according to “The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2010,” an annual report from SPINS, Mintel International and the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade.

Out of the $63.09 billion in specialty food sales, $50.34 billion were at retail, while foodservice sales accounted for $12.75 billion.

David Browne, an analyst at Chicago-based Mintel, said the recession has changed consumer-buying habits. They’re still looking for healthy foods and are cooking more at home, and consumers have been trading down on their specialty food purchases, he said in an April 7 Webinar to discuss the report. Two-thirds of consumers will purchase more private label products, up from 35 percent a year ago, Browne said.

The number of new products introduced in 2009 dropped 37 percent to 2,318, from 3,705 in 2008, as manufacturers cut back on research and development while focusing on existing lines.

Overall, 2009 was a good year for most specialty food manufacturers; 56 percent reported sales growth for 2009, while 10 percent had sales declines of 20 percent or more.

As more consumers are cooking more meals at home, sales of beans, grain and rice, and shelf-stable pastas each rose 30 percent since 2007. Yogurt and kefir is the fastest-growing specialty food category; sales jumped 38.9 percent in 2009 to $830 million.

Once again for 2009, cheese held on to its top spot as the most purchased category, ringing up $3.46 billion in sales. Condiments; frozen and refrigerated entrees, pizzas and convenience foods; chips, pretzels and snacks; and frozen and refrigerated meats, poultry and seafood rounded out the top five categories of the year.

As consumers are being more frugal with their food dollars, sales of specialty cooking oils, such as extra-virgin olive oils, dropped 1.6 percent, while the overall category of mainstream cooking oils increased by 18 percent, noted Ron Tanner, VP, communications and education for New York-based NASFT.

Specialty food accounts for 13.1 percent of all food sales, and is on track to account for 20 percent of all food sales by 2015, Tanner said.

At the retail level, 74.1 percent of specialty food sales occur at the supermarket. Natural food stores captured 7.8 percent of specialty food sales, increasing their market share by 19.1 percent since 2007.

Among specialty retailers, 55 percent said they increased sales last year, while 5.3 percent reported sales decreased of 20 percent or more.

Other highlights from the report include:

—Importers named Mediterranean, Latin and Indian as the three fastest-emerging cuisines
—Retailers report that 23.4 percent of the foods they sell are local, that is, produced within 250 miles of the store
—85 percent of specialty food manufacturers make or market natural foods
—Local, sustainable and eco-friendly products were identified as the items that will grow the most in the coming years

This annual study doesn’t include sales from Walmart or Trader Joe’s. “The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2010” summary report is included in the April 2010 issue of Specialty Food Magazine. It’s also available for $30 for non-members of NASFT at

SOURCE: The Gourmet Retailer