The Specialty Food Association (SFA) wrapped up its Specialty Food Live! virtual event last week, highlighting industry accomplishments and trends and spotlighting new products.
The annual sofi Awards recognized 130 specialty food products with gold, silver and new product honors, selected from a field of more than 1,500 entries across 49 categories. Seafood was in the spotlight this time, as Regal Double Manuka Wood Roasted Salmon from Regal New Zealand was honored as the sofi Awards’ New Product of the Year and Hancock Gourmet Lobster – Main Store Dinner for 2 from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. was named Product of the Year. The awards were judged by professionals at the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University.
Although this year’s event was virtual, experts on a special Trendspotter Panel weighed in on current and future trends coming out of the pandemic. “I think there will still be plenty of people staying at home and continuing to work from home,” predicted panelist Kara Nielsen, director, food & drink for WGSN. “During the pandemic, people got excited about the kitchen and cooking from home. That will continue, but people will balance that out with going to restaurants and traveling.”
Fellow panelist Sheree Williams, executive director of The Global Food & Drink Initiative and publisher of Cuisine Noir, said that innovations spurred by the change in lifestyle will impact the way food is sold, prepared and consumed. “I saw more innovations and flavors, and infusions, especially around honey, sauce, and oils,” she said. “Food makers are reinventing how we normally see ingredients.”
As for specific products, the panelists called out segments to watch, such as the reinvention of meal kits with more global flavors, the return of on-the-go items like canned coffee and ongoing interest in functional foods with immunity claims like adaptogens.
This year’s Specialty Food Live! event also included a preview of SFA’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry report, set to be released in early June. According to that report, sales of specialty food hit $170.4 billion in 2020 with an overall market increase of 7% from 2019 to 2020. An overwhelming 85% of specialty food sales are made in multi-outlet channels like grocery stores and mass merchants, SFA estimates.
Next up for SFA is the Fancy Food Show 2021, slated for late September in New York City. It is planned as both an in-person and digital event.
The SFA is the leading trade association and source of information about the $158.4 billion specialty food industry. Founded in 1952 in New York City, the SFA represents makers, importers, retailers, distributors and others in the trade.