The Specialty Food Association (SFA) released its annual Today's Specialty Food Consumer research, a complement to The State of the Specialty Food Industry Report. This year's online consumer survey saw 23 questions asked of 1,630 adults (age 18+) who say they share in or take primary responsibility with grocery shopping in their household. The survey was conducted with SliceMR in July 2022 to understand the motivations and habits of specialty food consumers.

Research highlights:

1. Consumers reporting they purchase specialty food hit a record-breaking 76%.

2. 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.

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

4. 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.

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

6. 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.

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

8. 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.

"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.

Learn more about the Today's Specialty Food Consumer report, 2022-2023 Edition.