Consumers are choosing specialty foods over conventional foods at record levels, according to research from the Specialty Food Association.  Innovative foods and beverages are driving the growing trend. Specialty Foods Nearly 75% of U.S. consumers report making specialty food purchases this year, a major increase since the economic downturn of 2009 when only 46% reported that they bought these high-quality products. Consumers surveyed say they spend about one quarter of their at-home food dollars on specialty options like artisanal chocolates, cheeses and oils. “The results confirm that consumers are responding to the wealth of innovative foods and beverages being produced today by food artisans and entrepreneurs across the U.S.,” says Ron Tanner, the Specialty Food Association’s VP of communications and education. “Specialty food has become part of the daily diet for a majority of Americans.” Some 43% of specialty food consumers use their mobile phones to buy food, and nearly half buy foods with locally-grown ingredients. Specialty food consumers tend to be young, affluent, and live in the West or Northeast. Men are almost as likely to make purchases as women, with 74% of men and 75% of women reporting buying specialty foods. To learn more about consumers who purchase specialty foods & beverages, check out the AudienceSCAN report available on the Research Store at ad-ology.com. [Source:  Research conducted by the Specialty Food Association.  2 Oct. 2013.  Web.  4 Oct. 2013.]