Consumers are buying a record amount of specialty food

"Grocery retail will be making more room on their shelves for specialty foods and seeking out more specialty food products to meet consumer demand," said Bill Lynch, president of the Specialty Food Association, the trade group that presented the findings.
Specialty food
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Shoppers have a growing interest in specialty food, to a record-breaking degree.

More than three in four consumers (76%) report purchasing specialty food—the most ever, according to the findings of the Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) Today’s Specialty Food Consumer Research released last week.

"The percent of food dollars that these consumers spend on specialty rose from 34% to 37.9%, which shows the growing importance of specialty in shoppers' baskets," Bill Lynch, president of the Specialty Food Association, told WGB in an email on Monday. "Grocery retail will be making more room on their shelves for specialty foods and seeking out more specialty food products to meet consumer demand."

This year’s online consumer survey included 1,630 adults who say they share in or take primary responsibility for grocery shopping in their household. The survey, which included 23 questions, was conducted with SliceMR in July to understand the motivations and habits of specialty food consumers, SFA said in a statement.

The report finds that incidence of purchase is holding steady among many age groups and has risen 6% over last year among millennials—the core specialty food consumers, the survey found.  Millennials rank highest in specialty food purchase likelihood (80%+) in each of the last four years, the survey revealed.

Gen Z is a rising generation that is showing great interest in specialty food with specialty food purchase likelihood (78%), which is now equal to Gen X's likelihood to buy specialty food, the survey found.

Shopping preferences continue to differ by generation. Gen Z and Millennials like to know company values and philosophy, see commitments to eliminating food waste, and have maximum flexibility in ordering online. The two generation of shoppers also are interested to see products from diverse suppliers, the survey reported. Baby Boomers and older shoppers, on the other hand, are more focused on whether a product is local or regional, the survey said.

“People continue to care more about what they eat, how it is made, where it comes from, who is making it, and how it impacts local and global communities and the environment,” said Denise Purcell, SFA vice president of resource development, in a statement.

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • Purchases in eight of the top 10 categories are up over the past two years, driven partly by staying in and cooking at home.
  • One-quarter of specialty food consumers report they like to shop where the store features products from diverse suppliers including women-, Black-, BIPOC-, LGBTQ+- and veteran-owned companies.
  • Online purchases will continue growing steadily as specialty food consumers buy more categories. The average SFC online purchaser buys 6.4 items compared to 15 for in-store purchases.


The Specialty Food Association (SFA) is a not-for-profit, membership-based, trade association founded in 1952 representing 3,000+ businesses. 




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