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  • Industry Voices: How Specialty Food Stakeholders are Innovating


    Specialty food makers have recently seen many opportunities to innovate their products or operations, and buyers continue to capitalize on innovative trends. We interviewed several industry professionals as part of the recently released annual research, State of the Specialty Food Industry + 10-Year Category Tracking and Forecasts. You can find full video interviews when purchasing this year’s report.

    Following are responses from makers and buyers regarding innovations businesses seek to explore and capitalize on.

    · “We’re really focused on tapping into the new usage occasions when we think of consumer behavior and consumer needs.”—Patti Doyle, CEO, Rumi Spice

    · “From a category management perspective, innovation is a top priority…[One example] is blurred diet lines. Two or three years ago, it was specifically vegan or paleo or keto, but now it has become consumers generally trying to eat healthier. There are so many different ways to do that now.”—Jeremy Adams, senior center store category manager, KeHE

    · “I am curious to see how [innovation] will look in light of what’s going on with the economy. Are people going to start trading down a little bit and will that have an impact on innovation or is that just going to create a different type of innovation?”—Beth Haley, VP vendor relations, DPI

    · “There’s a lot of innovation in food right now around form and format, and how people are consuming. When I think about alternative meat, we are seeing so many new things hitting the marketplace, like chicken. There are so many opportunities to be eating a plant-based product that feels like a chicken nugget, or feels like a patty.”—Cassy Kehoe, senior fresh category manager, KeHE

    · “People are really leaning in, and more open-minded to the innovation in the hemp side than I thought they would be. And buyers love it… Our innovation right now outside of product innovation is how do we get creative about communicating it to the customer, and really deepening relationships with the customer so that we can find out what flavors they want.”—Tonia Farman, co-founder/CEO, Queen of Hearts


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