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NEWS: Specialty Food Sales Near $150 Billion: 2019 State of the Specialty Food Industry Report Released

image loading... by Gail Gastelu, Owner/Publisher, The Tea House Times
posted Tuesday Jun 04, 2019 08:00 PM

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Gail Gastelu

Owner/Publisher, The Tea House Times

About Gail Gastelu

GAIL GASTELU is owner/publisher of The Tea House Times, producer of continuing education and online tea etiquette certification. She is also producer and presenter of Tea Course Fast Track and produces numerous other products and services to connect businesses and consumers to everything tea. Gail lives in NJ with her husband and two children. Her motto is "Just Do It!"

NEW YORK, NY (June 4, 2019) – The Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, issued today, reveals that specialty food remains one of the fastest-growing segments of the food business. Fueled by increasing interest from both consumers and retailers, total sales jumped 9.8 percent between 2016 and 2018, reaching $148.7 billion last year.

Specialty food sales outpaced the growth of all food at retail – up 10.3 percent vs. 3.1 percent. Product innovation and the wider availability of specialty foods through mass-market outlets is playing a part in the industry’s success. Sales through foodservice represented 22 percent of sales, with retail taking the top spot with 76 percent of sales. While online represents less than three percent of sales, it has grown 41 percent since 2016.

“Diverse consumer lifestyles are taking specialty foods mainstream,” said Phil Kafarakis, president of the SFA. “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.”

The SFA combines its annual research into a comprehensive State of the Specialty Food Industry report and 5-Year Category Tracking and Forecasts. Working with Mintel, the research explores where the current market stands, the opportunities and challenges it faces, where it is going based on sales forecasts in key categories, and how the specialty food consumer is evolving.

Key Facts and Figures:

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 – 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

Share of Consumers Buying Specialty Foods by Generation (2018)

  • Gen-Z – 66 percent
  • Millennials – 84 percent
  • Gen-X – 75 percent
  • Baby Boomers – 69 percent

Top Seven Take-Aways

  • Plant-based is going strong.
  • Specialty beverages are increasingly a force in the market.
  • Younger consumers don’t look to supermarkets for quick meals.
  • Reduced packaging and food waste are hot points.
  • The C-store channel is an under-tapped market for specialty items.
  • Foodservice needs to move to greater customization.
  • Opportunity lies in breakfast.


More on the State of the Specialty Food Industry Report will be detailed at a special session at the Summer Fancy Food Show – a trade-only event held at the Jacob Javits Center from Sunday, June 23 – Tuesday, June 25.  For more information or to register please visit

About the Specialty Food Association
The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers, and entrepreneurs. Established in 1952 in New York, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,800 members in the U.S. and abroad with resources, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food.

Specialty Food Association Media Contact:
PR Department,

Facebook: Specialty Food Association
Twitter: @Specialty_Food
LinkedIn: Specialty Food Association
Pinterest: @specialtyfoodassociation
Instagram: @specialtyfoodassociation



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