Millennials and Men Changing the Food Industry

By Specialty Food Association, Special for  USDR

Americans, especially millennials and men, continue to discover specialty foods and beverages as they become a larger, more integral part of the American diet, according to “Today’s Specialty Food Consumer,” an annual report from the Specialty Food Association. This robust survey, produced in conjunction with market researcher Mintel, is now available at

The $120.5 billion industry saw specialty food consumption jump significantly in 2016—60 percent of consumers, across all age groups, say they have bought a specialty food or beverage in the past six months, up from 47 percent in 2015. Other findings  include:

  • Millennials changing the game: The purchasing patterns of millennials cover the widest range of categories and the most diverse retail channels. They are the most frequent purchasers of products like chocolates, cookies, coffee, pasta and pizza sauces, ice creams, and salsas and dips. Watch this video and download this infographic to learn more about today’s millennial specialty food consumers.
  • Men step up: Last year was the first time men surpassed women as the group more likely to buy specialty foods, and the gap widened in 2016.
  • Online shopping has legs: This year’s respondents were more likely than ever to say they’ve made specialty food purchases online. Millennials are the most likely to shop for specialty foods online: 75 percent of respondents report doing so.
  • Not just the corner grocery: Specialty food sales in club stores, convenience stores, mass merchandisers, department stores, home stores, and gift stores are all growing.
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