Specialty foods are food typically considered as unique and high-value food items made in small quantities from high-quality ingredients. These types of foods offer distinct features to consumers who pay a premium for their perceived benefits. Due to this, the demand for such products, production, and sale of these foods has increased over the years. The high demand has, in turn, caused the prices for specialty food to skyrocket. Consumers typically pay more for specialty foods compared to non-specialty foods.
Producers of specialty foods have had to increase production in order to make more sales of these foods. The actions of such industries have led to increased concerns over product quality and safety of specialty foods made in a rush. Compared to staple foods, specialty foods have higher prices because they require more expensive ingredients and labor to make them. Additionally, specialty foods are made using expensive specific processing technologies and equipment to ensure their quality and microbial safety.
Factors Contributing to increased Sale of Specialty food
Regardless of the rising concerns over the safety and product quality of specialty foods, the industry continues to thrive. The industry continues to outpace conventional grocery sales as it seems consumers can’t get enough of specialty foods. In the United States, specialty food sales grew 10% between 2016 and 2018 to $148.7 billion. According to an analysis, currently, specialty food sales account for 16% of the total food market in the U.S.
The United States is fast approaching the point where specialty food account for 20% of all food and beverage. Under Specialty foods, beverage sales are growing faster than food sales. This has been the case as consumers buy more functional beverages that promote energy, relaxation, mental focus, and digestive health. Meanwhile, other consumers interact with specialty products mostly when they desire to do some snacking. Snacks under the specialty foods segment may include chips, wellness bars, cookies, meat snacks, crackers, and chocolate. These snacks also command a share of all specialty food sales.
Plant-based products, product claims, and transparency and traceability
Other consumers have contributed to promoting the $148.7 billion specialty food industry by buying plant-based specialty foods. The plant-based specialty foods sales contributed $5.5 billion to the total $148.7 billion in 2018. The plant-based segment is significant and is growing, but it remains relatively small as a share. Experts, however, believe the plant-based specialty foods sales will double in the next couple of years. Online specialty grocery shopping is believed will increase sales of plant-based specialty food close to $6 billion in the next years.
Product claims such as non-G.M.O, organic and natural have also led to many consumers promoting the specialty foods industry. Some have also choosen to buy the products due to dietary claims such as low sugar and high protein. Most consumers would prefer to experiment with such products than others leading to increased sales of specialty foods.
Specialty food sales have also increased due to transparency and traceability. Currently, transparency and traceability are key drivers for any business looking to achieve long-term marketplace success. Most of the industries that make specialty foods have ensured they remain transparent with their consumers. As a result, these consumers opt for such products, and the companies continue to thrive in the long term.