The $120.5 billion industry saw specialty food consumption jump significantly in 2016—60% of consumers, across all age groups, say they have bought a specialty food or beverage in the past six months, up from 47% in 2015. Other findings include:
- Millennials changing the game: The purchasing patterns of millennials cover the widest range of categories and the most diverse retail channels. They are the most frequent purchasers of products like chocolates, cookies, coffee, pasta and pizza sauces, ice creams, and salsas and dips.
- Men step up: Last year was the first time men surpassed women as the group more likely to buy specialty foods, and the gap widened in 2016.
- Online shopping has legs: This year's respondents were more likely than ever to say they've made specialty food purchases online. Millennials are the most likely to shop for specialty foods online: 75% of respondents report doing so.
- Not just the corner grocery: Specialty food sales in club stores, convenience stores, mass merchandisers, department stores, home stores, and gift stores are all growing.
The results of this research support The State of the Specialty Food Industry Report 2016, issued by the Specialty Food Association, earlier this year. The specialty food industry grew to a record high $120.5 billion industry in 2015, largely fueled by the growth of small businesses and the fact that the American consumers continue to move toward specialty foods and away from the mass. E-Commerce has become an integral part of the industry. Eighty-five percent of manufacturers sell via their own website and 49% use a third-party platform like Amazon.