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Sales Of Specialty Foods And Beverages are Expected To Reach $207 Billion By 2023

Discover the thriving specialty food and beverage industry! With over 63 categories, this market accounts for 22% of retail sales. Snacks lead the pack, surpassing $6 billion in annual sales.

Sales Of Specialty Foods And Beverages are Expected To Reach $207 Billion By 2023

Specialty foods and beverages are added to different food items to boost their functional and nutritional value. These additives have been shown to reduce food waste, increase shelf life and improve texture, appearance, taste and health profile for various food products.

The specialty market comprises 63 food and beverage categories, accounting for almost 22% of retail food and beverage sales. Chips, pretzels and snacks were the top-selling specialty food category at retail in 2022, moving up from third place in 2021 and becoming the first specialty category to surpass $6 billion in annual sales.

One of the primary elements driving the expansion of the specialty food and beverage industry is a rise in customer desire for nutritional changes. The growing trend of living a healthy lifestyle across all age groups, as well as the shift to a more beneficial and inventive approach has had a favorable influence on the sector for companies such as Life Aid Bev Co in the sports drink industry, for example.

In terms of retail sales, the top ten specialty food and beverage categories for 2022 were:

  1. Snacks, chips and pretzels
  2. Meat, poultry and frozen or chilled seafood
  3. Vegetable cheeses and cheeses
  4. Pastries and bread
  5. Non-RTD coffee and hot Chocolate
  6. Appetizers (frozen)
  7. Confectionery and Chocolate
  8. Water
  9. Ice cream (frozen)
  10. Appetizers, lunch and supper (frozen)

"Despite climate challenges since 2020, the resilient specialty food industry has continued to thrive," stated Denis Purcell, SFA Vice President, Resource Development. "While food inflation has impacted the market over the last two years, it is now stabilizing, and the industry is well-positioned for the future, with several bright spots in place. More grocery shops are carrying gourmet cuisine, more businesses are offering catering services, and manufacturers are coming up with creative ways to get their products out there."

Entrees (chilled) and Chocolate and other confectionery were two of the top-selling categories in 2022, and they were also among the Top 10 Fastest Growing Specialty Food and Beverage Categories in 2022:

  1. Sports and energy drinks
  2. RTD (Refrigerated Tea and Coffee)
  3. Appetizers (frozen)
  4. (frozen) breakfast foods
  5. Creams and creams (frozen and shelf-stable)
  6. Confectionery and Chocolate
  7. Food for infants and toddlers
  8. Snack bars and cookies
  9. Soda
  10. Aperitifs and frozen nibbles


The bulk of specialty plant-based sales growth is coming through conventional channels. Refrigerated plant-based milk accounts for 37% of total plant-based specialized retail sales. No other category accounts for more than 10% of total plant-based retail sales, while Cream and creamers (Refrigerated, Shelf stable) were on the verge (9.5%) in 2022. The latter group expanded well since 2020 (77 percent) and firmly in both 2021 and 2022, indicating that additional growth is coming.

Since 2020, plant-based meat substitutes (refrigerated) have taken a significant impact. Unfortunately, decreases were equally dispersed between 2021 and 2022, indicating that the category is undergoing a reset.

Plant-based desserts (frozen) had steady sales declines in 2021 and 2022, falling 10% during the three-year cycle. With so much rivalry and innovation, the category is also at a crossroads that will certainly continue into the next year.


The 67th Summer Fancy Food Show, held June 25-27 at the Javits Center in New York City, will include thousands of goods from the best-selling and fastest-growing categories. The Summer Fancy Food Show, solely open to the food and beverage trade and qualified media and influencers, is the biggest B2B event focusing on food and beverage.

Other highlights from the State of the Specialty Foods Industry study will be revealed at a Summer Fancy Food Show discussion with the report's principal researcher on Monday, June 26 (Big Idea Stage, Level 3, SFA Hub) at 10:30 a.m.

The yearly study on the condition of the specialty food business, now in its 20th year, assesses the market size and sales, dollar and unit sales growth, and penetration of specialty food categories. Individual 10-year monitoring and projections in 35 essential areas, including strengths, weaknesses and trends, are also included in the study.

You can buy The State of the Specialty Foods Industry and 10-Year Category Tracking and Forecasting, 2023-2024 Edition from The Learning Center. SFA members pay $499, while non-members pay $899.

The Specialty Foods Association's Mission

The non-profit Association of Food Specialties (SFA) is the primary professional membership organization and source of information for the $194 billion specialized food business. The SFA, founded in 1952 in New York City, is pleased to be a membership-driven association representing thousands of specialty food makers and manufacturers, importers, retailers, buyers, distributors, brokers and other industry actors. The SFA owns and manages the Food Shows, North America's premier specialized food industry events, and the sofiTM award, which has honored excellence in specialty food and drinks since 1972.

The SFA publishes the Trendspotter Panel's annual forecasts, the State of the Specialty Foods Industry Report, Today's Specialty Food Consumer research, the Spill and Flat podcast, education programs running year-round for workers at all stages of their careers and the SFA feed, which is widely regarded as the most reliable daily resource for industry news, trends and product announcements.


The majority of the increase in retail sales happened in 2021. In 2022, inflation surpassed growth in most categories, and unit sales witnessed a historic yearly decrease of 2.8 percent.

Furthermore, the specialist industry is developing, and Its market share reflects this. The 2020 stay-at-home-influenced sales surge led to specialty. Food and drinks account for more than 22 percent of the supermarket market for the first time. The total share has been relatively stable over the last two years and is predicted to remain in the 22 percent to 23 percent range through 2027.