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  • Industry Voices: Top Challenges Affecting the Specialty Food Industry

    George Hajjar

    Specialty food makers and buyers share many of the same challenges in today’s business environment, especially issues around staffing, supply chain, production, and inflation. 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 is a sampling of responses from makers and buyers regarding the challenges and bottlenecks that are causing the largest headaches. 

    [With regards to supply chain] we’ve managed okay, but it just seems like at every corner we’re dealing with playing whack-a-mole with something not being available.”—Jon Pruden, CEO, Taste 

    “The high costs of everything are a challenge for us. We’re a small manufacturer, we’re not the Krafts and the Mondelez of the world, we’re Alexian Paté. The challenges of higher costs are tough, the command for higher wages, higher prices of raw materials and packaging, the availability and lead times … the biggest [issue] is lead times and being able to put through price increases. We are looking at 60- to 90-day windows where our customers will allow us to do a price increase. For a small company that’s very scary.”—Alexandra Groezinger, president, Alexian Paté 

    “We’re not going to increase price but we’re seeing our margin eroding right now. Our packaging cost is +30 percent, raw materials, on average is +10 percent, and in total that’s an increase of the cost of goods sold around 15 percent. Right now, that’s not being offset by anything.”Pierre Jamet, chief sales officer, Petit Pot 

    “All the supply chain stuff that’s troubling for brands is absolutely hitting us on the buy side. And we work with a logistics partner for our warehousing, and they are certainly experiencing the labor crunch that the rest of our industry has.”Kate Harper, chief brand curator, Hive Brands 

    “Our biggest challenge right now is understanding the next phase of product availability and how macro things will impact that. So, we are still seeing bottlenecks in the supply chain both from imported product and some domestic delays … a lot of our cheese suppliers are having to short product, and I think a lot of that is due to the war and the aftermath of COVID.”Cassy Kehoe, senior fresh category manager, KeHE 

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