Specialty Foods an Affordable Luxury, Ideal Gift for Others

Specialty foods have become the foundation of the U.S. market for food gifting, which has helped the industry expand sales and product offerings in a challenged economy where few other areas of gift-​giving have found success, according to "Food Gifting in the U.S., 2nd Edition," from market research publisher Packaged Facts. 

There's a reason why specialty foods are the main components of food gifts, especially popular items such as gift baskets, says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts. People want to give gifts that are that are unique, personal, indulgent, convenient, and fun. For many consumers, buying specialty foods during recession is an affordable luxury that meets the criteria of their "ideal" gift for others or even themselves.

Packaged Facts estimates the overall market for gift-​giving in the U.S. increased 7% from $113 billion in 2007 to $121 billion in 2009. Likewise, the total market for food gift-​giving in the U.S. grew from $16 billion in 2007 to $18 billion in 2009, representing a 9% increase.  Packaged Facts projects that healthy growth across all food gifting channels will propel the market past $21 billion by 2014.

It comes as no surprise that the specialty food sector is fueling growth in the food gifting market, as that coincides with continuing consumer interest in all foods organic, natural and gourmet. Often positioned based on perceived health or environmental benefits, as well as better taste, organic and natural foods are increasingly finding their way into gift food baskets. Moreover, healthy food gift baskets are becoming more popular — perhaps as a way of giving a friend or loved one a subtle push toward a better lifestyle.

Packaged Facts' consumer research, conducted in May/​June 2010, found that 53% of adults are interested in high-​quality foods and 30% said they wanted healthy products, both of which represent increases in interest from 2007, when Packaged Facts last conducted this survey. This suggests that there's a clear market for better and healthier food gift items, and as the category matures, one could expect to see more variation in specialty food gifts. Consumers like the convenience of specialty food gifting: 74% of respondents in the 2010 survey liked being able to purchase specialty food gifts online.

[Source:  "Food Gifting in the U.S., 2nd Edition."  Packaged Facts. 16 Aug. 2010.  Web.  26 Aug. 2010.]