Our industry has seen the rise of specialty food, and the numbers show. Recently, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) released its annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, revealing that the specialty food market reached total sales of $170.4 billion in 2020, a 13 percent increase since 2018.
“The ripple across all channels of the specialty food industry has been tremendous,” said Bill Lynch, President of the SFA. “We’ve seen businesses flex their creativity in ways they never could have imagined, from restaurants becoming pop-up specialty food grocers to makers increasing production to meet consumer demand. Despite these historic challenges, the industry has continued to innovate and grow, as outlined in our annual research.”
All food sales, both specialty and non, grew much faster between 2018 and 2020, a reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on buying, at-home meal preparation, and consumption. Specialty food sales, speciﬁcally, grew 24 percent at retail from 2018–2020, and 19.4 percent in 2020 alone, stated the report. Categories related to cooking or baking at home soared, beneﬁtting products like baking mixes; pasta and sauces; frozen entrées; and meat, poultry, and frozen or refrigerated seafood.
In contrast to online and brick-and-mortar retail, sales to foodservice, which was devastated by the pandemic, fell off by 30 percent. Industry estimates predict foodservice’s overall recovery will take years, while retail sales are expected to continue thriving, noted the release.
SFA’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry research is an examination of market size and sales, dollar and unit sales growth, specialty food category penetration, growth forecasts in key categories, and 10-year tracking and forecasting in key categories.
Some key facts and figures to take note of include:
Top 10 Categories in Retail Dollar Sales
Top 10 Fastest-Growing Categories
According to the release, SFA has also noted some impacts on retail and consumer shopping habits in light of COVID-19, including:
This report will be discussed during a June 24 webinar at 1 p.m. EST, free for SFA members/$19 for nonmembers, and will be a featured panel during Fancy Food Show 2021. To learn more about the report, click here.
Stay up to date on all things specialty, dairy, and deli with Deli Market News.