The State of the Specialty Food Industry report conducted by the Specialty Food Association, in collaboration with Mintel, shows specialty foods category ranked among the fastest-growing in the food business, hitting $140.3 billion last year, an 11% increase since 2015. Product innovation and the availability of this category are factors in increased sales.

As a share of the total market, specialty food and beverage sales reached 15.8%. Unsurprisingly, plant-based products were a dominant force in these sales. In terms of retail dollars, the specialty food category is growing more rapidly compared to the food category overall, reaching 12.9% of retail dollars compared to 1.4% for all foods.

Of retail sales, 82% of them occurred in mainstream channels, but food service (accounting for 21.6 percent of sales) and ecommerce are growing faster than retail in sales, despite the smaller market share.

“The specialty food industry is a business that is constantly evolving,” said Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association in a statement. "Our research provides a comprehensive picture of where we are today and can be used to help businesses prepare for future success.”

To check out the full report