“Local" is the most important product claim today, and will remain so over the next three years, retailers said in the Specialty Food Association’s 2015 State of the Specialty Food Industry report.
“Local, sustainable, whole grains, humane food production,” one retailer responded when asked to name key emerging specialty food trends.
Produced in conjunction with research firms Mintel International and SPINS/IRI, the report tracks U.S. sales of specialty food in supermarkets, natural food stores, specialty food retailers and foodservice.
Specialty foods are defined for the report as products that have limited distribution and a reputation for high quality.
U.S. retail sales of specialty foods reached $85.5 billion in 2014, a 19% increase from 2012, according to the report.
Cheese remains the No. 1 category, with $3.7 billion in dollar sales.
As for changes among the top categories, coffee/cocoa moved up a ranking to become the second biggest specialty food category, over frozen and refrigerated meat/poultry/seafood. Rounding out the top five categories are chips/pretzels/snacks; and bread/baked goods, which entered the top five for the first time, bumping out yogurt.
The fastest growing categories in unit sales are refrigerated pasta/pizza sauces, up 78% since 2012, followed by refrigerated pasta and eggs, both up 53%.
Among other trends: functional beverages, nut/seed butters and energy bars and gels posted strong unit sales gains.
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