Specialty Foods Grow 10.7% Since 2017

July 23, 2020
Specialty food showed robust sales growth before the coronavirus pandemic.

Specialty food showed robust sales growth before the coronavirus pandemic, but the pandemic’s impact “cannot be underestimated,” the head of the Specialty Food Association says.

Specialty food sales hit $158.4 billion, a 10.7% increase since 2017, although unit sales growth did not keep pace with dollar sales due to inflation. From 2017 to 2019, specialty food sales grew three times as much as overall food and beverage sales, according to the SFA’s report.

That report did not detail the impact of the pandemic, but that impact “cannot be underestimated,” Bill Lynch, interim president of the SFA, said in a statement. “Food retail is an essential business channel and while that has been beneficial to sales for our members, many of whom are small businesses, the overall landscape is both optimistic and uncertain.”

According to the SFA report, the five specialty food categories with the highest dollar growth were: refrigerated plant-based meat analogues, shelf-stable creams/creamers, refrigerated creams/creamers, refrigerated RTD tea and coffee, and frozen breakfast foods. The top five categories in retail sales were: cheese (both real and plant-based); meat, poultry and seafood; salty snacks; coffee and hot cocoa; and breads and other baked goods.

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