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The Specialty Food Association’s Annual State Industry Report

The Specialty Food Association’s Annual State Industry Report

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

If you weren’t already amped up enough about the fast-approaching Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, New York, how about the fact that this segment is one of the fastest growing categories in the store?

The Specialty Food Association's (SFA) annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report shows that the category continues to hold its upward trajectory, fueled by increasing interest from both consumers and retailers.

Phil Kafarakis, President, Specialty Food Association“Diverse consumer lifestyles are taking specialty foods mainstream," said Phil Kafarakis, Association President. "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."

Total sales jumped 9.8 percent between 2016 and 2018, reaching $148.7 billion last year, according to a press release.

Topping the list of specialty items with the highest dollar growth is refrigerated plant-based alternatives

Combining the SFA’s annual research into a comprehensive State of the Specialty Food Industry report and 5-Year Category Tracking and Forecasts, the association works with Mintel to explore where the current market stands, opportunities and challenges it faces, where it is going based on sales forecasts in key categories, and how the specialty food consumer is evolving.

Top five categories with highest dollar growth

  • Refrigerated Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
  • Rice Cakes
  • Frozen Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
  • Water
  • Refrigerated RTD Tea and Coffee

Top five categories in 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

Some may have been easy to foresee, but others may surprise you like it did us (water!).

Plant-based cheeses top the charts in retail sales of specialty items

Product innovation and the wider availability of specialty foods through mass-market outlets are factors the SFA said played a part in the industry's success. Foodservice represented 22 percent of sales, with retail taking the top spot with 76 percent of sales. Even e-commerce, which accounts for less than three percent of sales, has grown 41 percent since 2016. Read more about the findings here.

The SFA said that more on the State of the Specialty Food Industry Report will be detailed at a special session at the Summer Fancy Food Show June 23 to June 25. Deli Market News will see you there!

Specialty Food Association