NEW YORK — Sales of specialty food and beverages reached $127 billion in 2016, surging 15% over a two-year period, while all food sales at retail grew 2.3%. The specialty segment’s strong double-digit growth is expected to continue in the years ahead, said Philip M. Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association.
|Philip M. Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association|
“The consumer evolution into authentic, sustainable and nutritious and wellness, while still keeping a focus on taste, continues to drive the growth of this business,” Mr. Kafarakis told Food Business News. “When you think about specialty food, it represents almost 15% of what’s sold in retail, but we see opportunities in the future beyond just specialty food shops ... we see it mainstream now, with regional and national retail chains, food service. We see huge opportunities in convenience stores.”
To maintain the momentum, the association is expanding membership to buyers across retail channels, he said.
“Our new vision as an organization is built around shaping the future of food, and our mission is built around championing, nurturing and connecting specialty food entrepreneurs so that we expand specialty food consumption,” Mr. Kafarakis said.
Produced by the Specialty Food Association, the Summer Fancy Food Show, held June 25-27 in New York, features the latest innovation from more than 2,600 exhibitors.
“Beyond the phenomenal variety of product innovation, this year is another record year for exhibitors and another record year for space,” Mr. Kafarakis said. “We estimate about over 180,000 different specialty food products on the floor.”
Functional beverages and ready-to-drink coffee and tea are among the fastest-growing categories in specialty food, said Denise Purcell, head of content at the Specialty Food Association.
|Denise Purcell, head of content at the Specialty Food Association|
“Wellness bars is another big category that is growing quite a bit,” Ms. Purcell said. “Between 2012 and 2016 that category grew 76% in sales, and it’s projected between now and 2021 to grow another 59%.”
Meat snacks continues its upward climb, rising 197% between 2012 and 2016 and projected to grow another 146% over the next five years, Ms. Purcell said.
In an interview, Ms. Purcell highlighted several product trends seen in the thriving specialty food marketplace.
Read on for seven trends featured at the Summer Fancy Food Show.