NEW YORK — Although fewer shoppers are making room in their food budgets for specialty purchases, nearly six in 10 specialty food consumers use these items for everyday occasions like meals at home.
During the first half of 2008 the number of shoppers who had purchased at least one specialty food item fell to 56%, from 73% the previous year, according to a Mintel study commissioned by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade here.
“Although people with higher incomes are buying more specialty products than they were in the past, people with lower incomes are no longer purchasing specialty foods,” said Ron Tanner, spokesman for the NASFT.
Most specialty food shoppers incorporate these items into their everyday routines.
“More people are going back to the kitchen because of financial issues,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst at Mintel. “They're looking for specialty ingredients that will bring the restaurant experience home.”
Specialty coffee and cold beverages share the title of most popular specialty item; 57% of specialty food shoppers polled purchased these beverages during a six-month period ending in July. During that time period, 54% purchased specialty olive oil; 53% cheese; 53% chocolate; and 44% bread.
Eighty-four percent turn to the supermarket for these purchases, followed by specialty food stores (40%), coffeehouses (39%), delis (26%), farmers' markets (24%) and natural food stores (24%).