Specialty Food Association Releases New Research, Understanding the Real Value of Specialty Foods - 2024 Edition

PR Newswire
Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at 3:15pm UTC

Specialty Food Association Releases New Research, Understanding the Real Value of Specialty Foods - 2024 Edition

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, May 21, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The Specialty Food Association (SFA) has released a second edition of its groundbreaking research report, Understanding the Real Value of Specialty Foods. Built on interviews with 1,000 shoppers, 100 retailers, and other data points, the new report outlines the positive impact of specialty products on retailer profitability and shopper loyalty, impact that has only increased in importance since the first edition came out in 2014.

Sales of specialty foods have grown from $88 billion in 2013 to an estimated $207 billion in 2023, an increase of 149%.

Describing the current moment as "an era of specialty food prominence," the report notes that sales of specialty products have grown from $88 billion in 2013 to an estimated $207 billion in 2023, an increase of 149%. With specialty food and beverages now representing 21.6% of all center store grocery sales in the 63 categories measured by SFA, they are no longer regarded as niche products, but a major driver of growth in the grocery sector.   

"There is a general perception of specialty foods as inherently worth more, whether in price or in time shoppers spend to procure them. This updated research proves that perception correct," said Bill Lynch, SFA president. "This has meaningful implications for many SFA members and the industry as a whole. In a time of economic uncertainty and fluctuating prices, we hope this research helps food makers, buyers, brokers, and distributors understand the positive impact that specialty products have on retailers' bottom lines."

Top Takeaways:                                                                                                                           

Specialty foods drive shopper loyalty.  The report outlines a clear relationship between how customers rate their primary store and that store's selection of specialty food items. Almost half (44%) of primary store shoppers surveyed for the report make trips to secondary stores specifically "to find specialty food items that their regular store does not carry." These trips, along with others made to dedicated specialty stores, represent $1,200 in sales per household per year, sales which retailers could be retaining themselves. "If my favorite store carried a wider selection of specialty food products," said 41% of shoppers surveyed, "I would be less likely to make shopping trips elsewhere."

"For my stores, specialty foods provide guests moments of joy," said Dwight Richmond, director of center store for Town & Country Markets. "Helping them re-discover unique foods they loved or encounter new foods they are going to love helps us create a guest who is excited to come back. They're telling their friends about the 'treasure hunt' of foodie finds in our stores, and that makes them a loyal customer for years to come."

Specialty foods drive retailer profits. In addition to the sales generated from retaining more trips, specialty foods are disproportionately more profitable on the shelf, according to this report. In fact, specialty food items generate a gross margin dollar return that is 3-4 times higher per unit than mainstream items, which, the report posits, helps to balance out "somewhat slower turns from specialty products." Given specialty products' higher average prices and gross margin rates, these items deliver more than twice the return on inventory investment (ROI) for retailers: 50.1% compared with 19.8% for non-specialty items, according to this report's data.

"From a business perspective," said Richmond, "specialty foods provide needed boosts in margin and dollar-sale profitability across all the categories they belong to."

SFA's new report contains sections on the economic impact of specialty foods, consumer insights and market dynamics, retailer case studies, growth opportunities, the role of distributors, private-label trends, e-commerce strategies, and the future outlook for the specialty foods market.

Understanding the Real Value of Specialty Foods - 2024 Edition is available for purchase in the SFA Learning Center. Qualified food industry professionals who register for the 2024 Summer Fancy Food Show can also download a complimentary copy of the report with a redemption code. Learn more and register on the SFA website.

About the Specialty Food Association

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) was founded in 1952 and is the not-for-profit trade association of the $207-billion specialty food industry. Representing more than 3,800 businesses worldwide, SFA champions industry participation and success for a diverse community of makers, buyers, importers, distributors, and service providers by developing resources, information, education, and events that celebrate innovation and inclusivity. SFA owns and operates the Fancy Food Shows as well as the sofi™ Awards, which have honored excellence in specialty food and beverage annually since 1972. The SFA also produces the e-newsletter SFA News Daily, the Trendspotter Panel annual predictions and Fancy Food Show reports, the State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, Today's Specialty Food Consumer research, and the Spill & Dish podcast. Find out more online and connect with SFA on Facebook, X, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

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SOURCE Specialty Food Association