Winter Fancy Food Show 2017
The Winter Fancy Food Show showcases innovations from 1,400 exhibitors.

SAN FRANCISCO — The specialty food and beverage industry has recorded double-digit growth in recent years, driven by changes in consumer behavior, said Denise Purcell, head of content for the Specialty Food Association.

Denise Purcell, Specialty Foods Association
Denise Purcell, head of content for the Specialty Food Association

“The consumer now is so aware of what they’re eating and what they’re putting in their bodies and they want healthful foods and they want a food experience,” Ms. Purcell said. “That’s the norm now. It’s not so much a niche category of consumers who know what specialty is and it’s a thing on its own. It really is just food.”

Speaking with Food Business News before the Winter Fancy Food Show, held Jan. 22-24 in San Francisco, Ms. Purcell discussed recent product innovation in specialty food and beverage as well as the consumer trends propelling the segment’s growth.

“(Consumers expect) cleaner ingredients, minimally processed but still very flavorful,” she said. “They want to indulge when they want, but they still want it to be high-quality. They want it to be a healthy indulgence.

“The younger millennial consumer and the consumer who is just coming of age now, Gen Z, are very much of that mindset as well. This is the future consumer for the market, so we can see the growth being sustained.”

Among the latest innovations from 1,400 exhibitors at the annual show, a number of trends emerge, reflecting increased demand for authenticity, transparency and premium quality.