Market Trends for Specialty Foods

April 30, 2015 - William A Knudson


This brief study outlines the potential for specialty food products. This is a growing part of the food industry accounting for $88 billion in sales in 2013 and continues to grow faster than the food system as a whole (Mintel, p.18). Specialty foods are no longer for special occasions, they have become everyday
items. After an extended period of stagnant or declining incomes, a slowly recovering economy is also driving the increase in demand for specialty food products.

The analysis includes those industries that appear to have the most potential for growth as well as the demand drivers that have the most appeal to consumers. The demand drivers are rather broad; in addition to the traditional demand drivers of wellness, convenience, indulgence, and ethnic, locally
produced and GMO free are growing in importance to a subset of consumers. Indulgence is a product attribute that is particularly well suited to specialty foods. Some consumers are also interested products that appeal to their moral or ethical beliefs, this could include products that emphasize environmental sustainability, animal husbandry practices, paying a “living wage” to workers or other attributes. 

Increasingly consumers are demanding verification of various product claims. There are also a wide range of product categories that also have potential. In dairy, yogurt, cheese, and frozen desserts retain their strong potential for new product introductions. Other sectors that have potential are meat products, potato chips and snacks, and some processed vegetable products.

For the purpose of this study, specialty foods are defined as products that generally have a limited distribution and a reputation for high quality (Mintel, p.8). However, the traditional shopping outlets are becoming more interested in specialty foods as the interest for these products has increased. The
reputation for high quality also generally means that the product can be sold for a higher price than generic products.

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