Seems like it’s a food sort of day. There was an interesting press release from the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (or NASFT) — the folks that put on the various Fancy Food Shows — entitled Specialty Food Industry Shows Renewed Strength. It’s a teaser for the actual report, The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2011, “an annual report from the NASFT prepared in conjunction with market researchers Mintel International and SPINS. The report tracks sales of specialty food through supermarkets, natural food stores and specialty food retailers, and includes research from interviews with food retailers, distributors, brokers and others involved in the supply chain.” The actual report will be presented April 13 in a “webinar” and for a mere $90 clams you can listen in, too. But the press release does reveal some of what to expect:
Consumers are spending on specialty food again after a period of holding back. Sales of specialty food and beverages rose 7.7 percent in 2010, topping $70 billion, according to new research released by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade.
“The rebound is impressive,” says Ron Tanner, Vice President, Communications and Education for the NASFT. “As consumers feel more confident about the economy, they are coming back to specialty foods.” In 2009, sales rose by a more tepid 4.5 percent.
Cheese continues to dominate spending for this segment of the food industry, with $3.23 billion in sales in 2010. Rounding out the top five categories are meats, chips and snacks, bread and baked goods and condiments. Functional beverages are the fastest growing specialty food category, followed by yogurt and kefir.
Last year specialty food makers focused on their existing items, with new product introductions about even with 2009. Launches of premium private-label products, such as store brand cookies and sauces, declined to 455 in 2010 from 518 in 2009, demonstrating a return to branded products.
It’s interesting to see artisanal cheese continue to hum along, the 500-lb. gorilla of the specialty food world. I attended a cheese conference a few years ago with a panel that discussed the parallels between craft beer and American craft cheese. At that point, the experts on the panel claimed that our artisanal cheese industry was roughly 15 years behind where craft beer was at that point. But based on this, it would appear that cheese is indeed keeping pace and even catching up. Given how good the two are together — is there anything better the perfect beer and food pairing? — that’s very good news indeed.
Here are some more highlights from the report:
- Total U.S. sales of specialty foods in 2010 were $70.32 billion, with $14.4 billion represented by sales to the food service industry.
- Specialty foods represent 13.1 percent of all food sales at retail.
- Natural food stores are the fastest growing retail channel; sales rose 14.7 percent between 2008 and 2010.
- Mediterranean and Indian are the most influential emerging cuisines, importers say.
- Seventy-six percent of specialty food manufacturers reported a sales increase in 2010, with 36 percent up more than 20 percent.
- Gluten-free introductions showed sharp gains, with 119 new products in 2010 versus 67 in 2009.
- Supermarkets remain the largest seller of specialty foods, with 72.3 percent of sales, but their share is dipping as specialty and natural food stores attract more consumers.
- The average specialty food manufacturer produces 51 different items and brings in $2.3 million in annual sales.
Mr. Nuts says
Guess that’s why the stinkin’ Food Network is on in the gym all the time.