Specialty food makers and buyers surmounted the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those related to stock management, supply chain, staffing, and more. This unprecedented period of time also provided an opening for many within the industry to triumph. SFA interviewed industry professionals as part of its State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, 2022-2023 edition. You can find full video interviews when purchasing this year’s report.
Following is a list of responses from makers and buyers regarding the opportunities that have precipitated from the pandemic:
“We actually saw such increased sales when COVID first started, we didn’t even know what to do with ourselves because we were seeing Christmas volumes on steroids.”—Alexandra Groezinger, President, Alexian Pate
“Fresh really saw the boom when everyone was cooking at home. Specifically in categories like cheese, proteins, and alternative meat because people were seeking out different center-of-the-plate options. Alternative meats have been through the roof in terms of year-over-year growth and just month-over-month growth...It’s going to be interesting to see what happens now that people are going back out to eat.”—Cassy Kehoe, Senior Fresh Category Manager, KeHE
“Consumers have really formed new behaviors, attitudes, values, what they are looking for out of their foods…it’s really opened the door for natural, organic, and specialty products.”—Jeremy Adams, Senior Center Store Category Manager, KeHE
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of innovation in distribution. And we’re seeing this across food service and retail. With the COVID pressures, a lot of smaller guys got squeezed in terms of supply chain and it continues to happen. So, we are seeing disruptive distribution methods…that are filling in those gaps and making sure that the independents and the small guys get reliable ongoing service when it comes to demand, and these players are being very smart with how they leverage technology.”—Julia Stamberger, Co-founder/CEO, Planting Hope Company
“As a brand, we benefited from COVID by providing a dessert, something that’s indulgent. I think that definitely served us well, especially the online grocery channel.”—Pierre Jamet, Chief Sales Officer, Petit Pot