Specialty Food and Beverage Sales Expected to Reach $207 Billion in 2023 According to the SFA Report

PHOTO: Heidi Castrillón | Biz Republic PHOTO: Heidi Castrillón | Biz Republic

The specialty market is composed of 63 food and beverage categories which combined account for nearly 22 percent of retail food and beverage sales.

NEW YORK. June 26, 2023 (Biz Republic) — Sales of specialty foods and beverages across all retail and foodservice channels neared $194 billion in 2022, up 9.3 percent over 2021, and are expected to reach $207 billion by year’s end, according to the Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report.

The specialty market is composed of 63 food and beverage categories which combined account for nearly 22 percent of retail food and beverage sales. Chips, pretzels, snacks was the highest-selling specialty food category at retail in 2022, moving up from third place in 2021 and becoming the first specialty category ever to exceed $6 billion in annual sales.

The top 10 specialty food and beverage categories for 2022 in retail sales were:

1. Chips, pretzels, snacks
2. Meat, poultry, seafood (Frozen, refrigerated)
3. Cheese and plant-based cheese
4. Bread and baked goods
5. Coffee and hot cocoa, non-RTD
6. Entrees (Refrigerated)
7. Chocolate and other confectionery
8. Water
9. Desserts (Frozen)
10. Entrees, lunch, dinner (Frozen)

“The resilient specialty food industry continues to thrive despite weathering challenges since 2020,” said Denise Purcell, SFA’s Vice President, Resource Development. “While food inflation has impacted the market in the past couple of years, that is stabilizing, and the industry is poised for the future with several positives in place. Consumers have more retail channels in which to purchase specialty foods, foodservice is rebounding, and makers are innovating with sourcing, ingredients, and promotion.”

Two top-selling categories in 2022 – Entrées (Refrigerated) and Chocolate and other confectionery – also were among the Top 10 Fastest-Growing Specialty Food and Beverage Categories in 2022:

1. Energy and sports drinks
2. Tea and coffee, RTD (Refrigerated)
3. Entrées (Refrigerated)
4. Breakfast foods (Frozen)
5. Cream and creamers (Refrigerated, Shelf stable)
6. Chocolate and other confectionery
7. Baby and toddler food
8. Cookies and snack bars
9. Soda
10. Appetizers and snacks (Frozen)

Thousands of products from the top selling and fastest growing categories will be on exhibit at the 67th Summer Fancy Food Show, June 25-27 at the Javits Center in New York CIty. Open only to the food and beverage trade and qualified media and influencers, the Summer Fancy Food Show is the largest B2B specialty food and beverage event in North America.

Additional highlights from the State of the Specialty Food Industry report will be shared during a Summer Fancy Food Show session with the report’s lead researcher on Monday, June 26th at 10:30 am (Big Idea Stage, Level 3, SFA Hub).

Now in its 20th year, the annual State of the Specialty Food Industry research is an examination of market size and sales; dollar and unit sales growth; and specialty food category penetration. The report also contains individual 10-year tracking and forecasting in 35 key categories, including strengths, weaknesses, and trends for each category.

The State of the Specialty Food Industry and 10-Year Category Tracking and Forecasts, 2023-2024 Edition can be purchased in the Learning Center. The cost is $499 for SFA members and $899 for non-members.


The not-for-profit Specialty Food Association (SFA) is the leading membership trade association and source of information about the $194 billion specialty food industry. Founded in 1952 in New York City, the SFA prides itself on being an organization by the members and for the members, representing thousands of specialty food makers and manufacturers, importers, retailers, buyers, distributors, brokers, and others in the trade. The SFA owns and operates the Fancy Food Shows—which are the largest specialty food industry events in North America—as well as the sofi™ Awards—which have honored excellence in specialty food and beverage annually since 1972. The SFA produces the Trendspotter Panel annual predictions, the State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, Today’s Specialty Food Consumer research, the Spill & Dish podcast, year-round educational programming for professionals at every stage in their business journey, and SFA Feed, the industry’s go-to daily source for news, trends and new product information.