Specialty foods and beverage sales to surpass $200B by end of 2023

Chips, pretzels and snacks top the list in the highest-selling food category.
State of the Specialty Foods Report
Nearly 22% of all retail food sales take place within the 63 specialty categories, according to the report. / Photo courtesy: Shutterstock

The specialty food market grew at a pace of more than 9% in 2022 and is projected to grow to $207 billion by the end of 2023, according to the Specialty Food Association’s annual State of the Specialty Foods Report. 

The report shows that specialty foods and beverage sales came in at just under $194 billion in 2022, with chips, pretzels and snacks topping the list for the highest-selling food category. That’s followed by the frozen/refrigerated meat, poultry and seafood category, while sales in the cheese and plant-based cheese category took the third spot.  

The remaining six high-selling categories, from greatest to least, include: bread and baked goods; coffee and hot cocoa, non-RTD; refrigerated entrees; chocolate and other confectionery; water; frozen desserts; frozen lunch and dinner entrees.  

Nearly 22% of all retail food sales take place within the 63 specialty categories, according to the report.  

“The resilient specialty food industry continues to thrive despite weathering challenges since 2020,” said Denise Purcell, SFA’s vice president of Resource Development, in a statement. “While food inflation has impacted the market in the past couple of years, that is stabilizing, and the industry is poised for the future with several positives in place. Consumers have more retail channels in which to purchase specialty foods, foodservice is rebounding and makers are innovating with sourcing, ingredients and promotion.” 

The report also identified the top 10 fastest-growing specialty food and beverage categories in 2022, with energy and sports drinks topping the list. It was followed by tea and coffee, RTD (refrigerated); refrigerated entrees; frozen breakfast foods; refrigerated and shelf-stable cream and creamers; chocolate and other confectionery; baby and toddler food; cookies and snack bars; soda; and frozen appetizers and snacks. 

More highlights from the report we be made available on June 26 at the 67th Summer Fancy Food Show at the Jarvis Center in New York City. The annual State of the Specialty Foods Report, which is in its 20th year, includes a 10-year tracking analysis of 35 categories in specialty foods and beverage sales. 



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