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SFA Releases Today's Specialty Food Consumer Research

Specialty Food Association

More than three in four consumers (76 percent) report purchasing specialty food, show the findings of the SFA’s Today’s Specialty Food Consumer Research.

“People continue to care more about what they eat, how it is made, where it comes from, who is making it, and how it impacts local and global communities and the environment,” said Denise Purcell, SFA vice president, resource development.

This year’s online consumer survey included 1,630 adults who say they share in or take primary responsibility with grocery shopping in their household. The survey was conducted with SliceMR in July, to understand the motivations and habits of specialty food consumers.

Research highlights:

• Spending on groceries and away-from-home food is up. Inflation plays a role here but spending choices indicate consumers are returning to restaurants and buying freshly prepared foods.

• Incidence of purchase is holding steady among many age groups and has risen 6 percent over last year among millennials—the core specialty food consumers.

• Gen-Z is a rising generation and with most now age 18+, is equal to Gen-X in specialty food purchase likelihood. Both groups are second only to millennials.

• Purchases in eight of the top 10 categories are up over the past two years, driven partly by staying and cooking at home.

• One-quarter of specialty food consumers report they like to shop where the store features products from diverse suppliers including women-, Black-, BIPOC-, LGBTQ+-, and veteran-owned companies.

• Better-for-the-environment attributes are gaining ground as motivators for purchase. Specialty food consumers care about attributes like organic, sustainable, and upcycled.

• Online purchases will continue growing steadily as specialty food consumers buy more categories. The average SFC online purchaser buys 6.4 items compared to 15 for in-store purchases.

The full Today’s Specialty Food Consumer report, 2022-2023 Edition, may be purchased in the Learning Center on SFA members can log in to receive discount pricing.

Related: Perceived Food Inflation Rate Outpaces Reality; Thrive Market Launches Curated Gift Boxes.