Sales of specialty food topped $100 billion for the first time in 2014, boosted in part by gains in bread and baked goods, which moved into the top five best-selling categories within the segment, according to a new report from the Specialty Food Association (S.F.A.).
The report, “The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2015,” was produced by the S.F.A. in conjunction with research firms Mintel International and SPINS/I.R.I. The groups tracked U.S. sales of specialty food through supermarkets, natural food stores, specialty food retailers and food service venues, with specialty foods broadly defined as “products that have limited distribution and a reputation for high quality.”
While cheese and cheese alternatives maintained its No. 1 ranking among retail sales of specialty foods with 2014 sales of $3,708 million, several grain-based foods categories had prominent placement on the list.
Chips, pretzels and snacks posted retail sales of specialty foods in 2014 of $3,112 million, up nearly 25% since 2012, and good enough for the No. 4 ranking, behind the aforementioned cheese and cheese alternatives category, as well as the coffee, coffee substitutes and cocoa category ($3,476 million) and the frozen and refrigerated meat, poultry and seafood category ($3,189 million).
Moving into the top five was bread and baked goods, which had 2014 retail sales of $2,351 million, up 17% from 2012.
Just behind bread and baked goods was the candy and individual snacks category. At $2,082 million, the category was up 27% from 2012, according to the report.
“The time is now for specialty food,” said Ron Tanner, vice-president of philanthropy, government and industry relations for the S.F.A. “Consumers are looking for new tastes, foods with fewer and cleaner ingredients, health attributes, and products that are made by companies with values they care about. All of these define specialty food.”