While innovation may be critical to the
kitchenware side of the gourmet business,
on the specialty food side what matters is
traditional, artisanal and locally focused
sustainability. Now, when we say local, it
does not mean right around the corner
from your store. What local has become
to consumers is the knowledge that the
product you are stocking contains the
best-quality ingredients, is sustainably
sourced, and is created by purveyors,
farmers, craftsmen who have a name
and a face.
It’s interesting. The trend in specialty
and gourmet food – both at independent
and chain retail levels – is being led now
by consumers who are interested in what
specialty gourmet retailers have known
all along. Know the source of your food.
Specialty gourmet retailers know where their products come from. They
know the story of the brands they carry. In fact, the brands they carry
are not simply a label, they are people, they are families, they tell a tale
of the product.
All the analysts with their crystal balls this year are naming 2011 as the
year of the farmer, the year of local – where have they been?
Research from the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade
shows that 63 percent of U.S. consumers purchased specialty foods in
2010, compared to 46 percent the prior year.
“This has been a great year for the specialty food industry, and we
predict the momentum will continue,” says Ann Daw, president of the
NASFT. “More newcomers are pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams of
making great food products, and consumers are more passionate about
where their food comes from than ever before.”
Steven Hoffman of Boulder, Colo.-based marketing firm Compass Natural,
released his own predictions noting that while consumers will continue
to look for value with the depressed job market, core healthy lifestyles