What Does The Future Look Like?

Denise Purcell
Crunch time for our annual State of the Specialty Food Industry report occurs from January through March when our research partner Mintel compiles and analyzes sales data for the calendar year just ended, conducts our consumer survey and supply chain interviews, and synthesizes it all into a picture of where we currently are as an industry. It’s a heavy lift in an ordinary year; organizing it as the entire world is upended starts to feel alarmingly futile when the question on everyone’s mind is, “What does the future look like?”

Offering a future vision beyond a current situation obviously creates a more useful  business tool. To address that over the years, we’ve expanded our research with new components like commentary from makers and buyers and our 10-year product category tracking and forecasts. This year, these pieces are even more critical to put the state of the specialty food industry in context amid the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve added coverage and analysis on the impact of COVID-19 throughout the research highlights you’ll find in the latest issue of Specialty Food magazine and in the full reportWe’ve also extended our Category Tracking and Forecast report to include data from early 2020, allowing us to predict market growth and fluctuations based on more current circumstances.

Industry feedback and predictions in this year’s report show a mixed bag of concern and hope as companies weather the first unstable months of the pandemic spread and business shutdown. Grocery stores have a renewed appreciation as essential businesses but need to continue to adapt as online shopping booms. The foodservice industry has suffered the most severe blow and reopening promises to be a very different new normal, but many operators have responded with expanded delivery, meal kits, and a pivot to grocery store operations. Many makers have enjoyed a sales jump as consumers have hunkered down and cooked more in the face of stay-at-home orders. But the longer term reality means rethinking how to get consumers engaged with new products when there’s no place for traditional methods like sampling and most shoppers are taking little time for discovery as they move quickly in and out of the store. 

Finding opportunity amid change is not just a prevalent theme. It’s a requisite for survival now and in the future.

The same is true here at SFA where you’ll start to see changes in our platforms to help us better and more effectively serve our membership and the industry. You’ve already noticed an expanded, must-see webinar program from our Education group aimed at helping companies mitigate risk and plan business amid the current challenges.
You can also expect more ways to connect makers and buyers ... beyond an in-person model.

We’ve got new things coming in media as well, including a move to an all-digital format for Specialty Food magazine in fall 2020. The shift opens opportunity for our newly release SFA Feed app, which offers an immediate, easy to navigate source of news, trend, and product information, along with video and audio programming. You can download SFA Feed in the App Store or get it on Google Play. And know that we will continue to
bring you in-depth content and business-building information as we advance our digital and virtual offerings.
Posted by Denise Purcell on Jul 27, 2020 2:30 PM America/New_York