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Consumers Snacking More On Specialty Food

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Specialty Food Association InfoSpecialty food consumers are spending more of their food dollars on specialty food this year, and the all-powerful Millennial generation is gravitating toward specialty food for snacks and on-the-goal meals, according to new research from the Specialty Food Association.

Overall, specialty food shoppers say they are spending one in four of their food dollars on specialty food, up from one in five in 2013. Their top picks? Chocolate, olive oil and cheese are purchased most, but tea is gaining, making it into the top 10 foods specialty food consumers report buying this year.

A generation gap is evident. Younger adults report spending more on specialty food than boomers and those older, and older consumers buy specialty foods more for everyday cooking at home vs. snacking.

“Overall, specialty food consumers have these foods and beverages on hand for regular usage, whether as an everyday snack or meal or as a treat,” says Denise Purcell, senior director of content development for the Specialty Food Association. “This daily engagement bodes well for the market as a whole.”

The findings are based on an online survey conducted by Mintel International in June of 1,649 adults age 18 and older. The results are published in the fall issue of Specialty Food Magazine. Specialty foods were defined as foods of premium quality such as high-end chocolate, coffee or cooking oil. These foods may be made by small or local manufacturers, have exotic ethnic flavors, have the very best ingredients available or are foods that are unique.

Research highlights:

• 18- to 24-year-olds were the most likely consumers of chocolate, salty snacks, frozen desserts and ready-to-eat food and beverages;

• 59 percent of U.S. adults purchased specialty food products in the last six months;

• 42 percent of adults surveyed said that they try new foods in order to eat healthier;

• 71 percent of specialty food consumers support companies that practice sustainability;

• Core specialty food consumers are age 18-44 and affluent, earning more than $75,000 annually; and

• Women are more likely than men to purchase specialty food products.

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