Specialty foods are typically considered as "unique and high-value food items made in small quantities from high-quality ingredients..." Consumers typically pay premium prices for specialty foods, and may perceive them as having various benefits compared to non-specialty foods. Compared to staple foods, specialty foods may have higher prices due to ingredients and labor that are costlier. Some food stores specialize in or predominantly purvey specialty foods. Several organizations exist that promote specialty foods and its purveyors.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Specialty foods
- 3 By country
- 4 Specialty food companies and stores
- 5 Specialty food organizations
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 Further reading
Foods that have been described as specialty foods include:
- Caviar 
- Cheese and artisan cheese 
- Specialty coffee – sometimes referred to as artisanal coffee
- High-quality chocolate 
- Foie gras 
- Morel mushrooms 
- Mostarda 
- Gourmet pet foods 
- Edible seaweed 
- Stinky tofu (Chinese: chòu dòufu) – has been described as a local specialty food in the Old City of Shanghai
- Truffles 
- Truffle oil 
- Vegan cheese 
Foods that have been described as specialty foods as per not precisely corresponding into other food categories include:
- Kimchi 
- Olives 
- Royal jelly, bee pollen and propolis 
- Sauerkraut 
- Sea vegetables 
- Umeboshi plums 
In China, specialty foods have been described as having "important roles in the food culture..." Some Chinese recipes may be footnoted with a statement that ingredients may only be available in specialty food stores and Chinese markets.
In the United States, specialty foods and its purveyors are regulated by both federal and state agencies.
The Specialty Food Association's annual "State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014" report stated that in 2013 in the U.S., specialty foods and beverages sales totaled $88.3 billion, accounted for an increase of 18.4% since 2011, and was a record high for the fourth consecutive year. The report also stated that around 80% of specialty food sales occur at the retail level, and that seven out of ten specialty food retailers reported that the word "local" had the most importance as a product claim.
Bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturers
As of March 2015 in the United States, the number of bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturers (companies that process cocoa beans into a product in-house, rather than melting chocolate from another manufacturer) had increased to at least 60. The Fine Chocolate Industry Association stated that this represented "a tenfold increase in the past decade that's outpacing growth in Europe".
In 2012 in the United States, the specialty foods market sector was experiencing significant growth, with its annual growth rate at 8–10%. In 2010, specialty foods comprised 13.1% of total retail food sales and totaled $55.9 billion in sales.
In 2010 in Oakland, California it was reported that abandoned industrial spaces previously occupied by large food producers were being being inhabited by small specialty food companies.
In 1998, the U.S. state of California had the second-highest amount of specialty and gourmet foods of all U.S. states. This has been attributed as possible due a diverse variety of unique fruits and vegetables that can be grown in Southern California. Another possibility for the high quantity and diversity of specialty foods in California is that food innovations often occur in the state, as has occurred in other sectors such as health food and organic produce.
In 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that city officials in Monterey Park, Los Angeles County, California suspected that significant numbers of non-residents were visiting the city to shop at Asian markets there to obtain specialty foods.
In terms of food-place association perceptions, Vermont has been described as being associated with "homemade-style specialty items", along with maple syrup.
Specialty food companies and stores
Some companies, grocery stores and food stores specialize in or predominantly purvey specialty foods. Some of these companies include:
- Asian markets and supermarkets
- Boulder Specialty Brands Inc. 
- Centennial Specialty Foods Corp., Centennial, Colorado 
- Innovative Food Holdings 
- Organic Food Brokers, Boulder, Colorado 
- Whole Foods Market 
Specialty food organizations
- Connecticut Food Association – has a specialty food division 
- Connecticut Specialty Food Association 
- Massachusetts Specialty Foods Association 
The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, also known as the Specialty Food Association is a non-profit trade association founded in 1952 in New York that has over 3,000 members. The organization also oversees its Specialty Food Foundation, a foundation that "works to reduce hunger and increase food recovery efforts via grantmaking, education and industry events".
In New York's Finger Lakes region, the Worker Ownership Resource Center established the Specialty Food Network. The network was established to "help clients start or expand small food businesses" and to promote the businesses and products of its members. Establishment of the network was enabled in part with a grant from the John Merck Fund. In 1998, the network had 46 members.
- South Carolina Specialty Food Association 
- Vermont Specialty Food Association 
- Zhao 2012, p. vii
- Hall, S. (2005). From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty. From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty Series. Kaplan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7931-9997-6. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Wemischner, R.; Karp, K. (1997). Gourmet to go: a guide to opening and operating a speciality food store. John Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-13939-3.
- Pegler, M.M. (1999). Specialty Food Store Design. Visual Reference Publications. ISBN 978-0-934590-77-8.
- Zhao 2012, p. 298.
- Prisco, Joanna (October 2, 2013). "Americans Hungry for Funky, Innovative Cheeses". ABC News. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- Ferdman, Roberto A. (February 24, 2015). "It’s true: Americans like to drink bad coffee". Washington Post. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- Szogyi, Alex (editor) (1997). Chocolate: Food of the Gods. Issue 14 of Contributions in intercultural and comparative studies (ISSN 0147-1031). Greenwood Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-313-30506-1.
- "Demand for foie gras soaring in California after ban lifted". Fox News. January 21, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
- Moore, Derek (January 8, 2015). "Courts overturn foie gras ban". Petaluma Argus Courier. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
- Holusha, John (July 11, 1986). "Laboratory Morels 'Bloom'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Small, E.; Canada, National Research Council (2009). Top 100 Food Plants. NRC Research Press. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-660-19858-3. Retrieved March 1, 2015. Quote: " In Italy, it (mostarda) is sold by the barrel, while in other Western countries mostarda is generally marketed as a gourmet item in specialty food stores"
- McGrath, R.G.; MacMillan, I.C. (2000). The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Strategies for Continuously Creating Opportunity in an Age of Uncertainty. Working paper series (Snider Entrepreneurial Center). Harvard Business School Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-87584-834-1.
- Harris, Richard (June 10, 2013). "How To Clean Up Fish Farms And Raise More Seafood At The Same Time". NPR. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- Owyang, S. (2010). Frommer's Shanghai. Frommer's Complete Guides. Wiley. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-470-43794-0.
- Farnham, Alan (March 25, 2014). "Celebrity Chefs Buying Truffles to Tune of $30K a Day". ABC News. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- Vasarri, Chiara (October 21, 2014). "Truffle Boom Brings La Dolce Vita Amid Italy Economic Slump". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- Tolson, Shaun (November 6, 2014). "The Truth About Truffle Oil". Robb Report. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Vegan Cheese Company Prepares for National Expansion After $125K "Shark Tank" Investment". Specialty Food Association. February 27, 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Halter, M. (2007). Shopping for Identity: The Marketing of Ethnicity. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-307-42770-0.
- Bowden 2007, p. 222.
- Newman, J.M. (2004). Food Culture in China. Food culture around the world. Greenwood Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-313-32581-6.
- Dahlen, M. (2010). A Cook's Guide to Chinese Vegetables. askmar publishing. ISBN 978-1-935842-03-3.
- "Resources". Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship, Cornell University. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014". Specialty Food Association. October 27, 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Frozen Dessert Sales Up 28% in US Specialty Food Market". Frozen Foods Biz. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Pierson, David (February 28, 2015). "Artisanal, hand-crafted chocolate is a growing niche". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Niche Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Production Shows Rapid Growth". Specialty Food Association. March 2, 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Jou, Diana (December 13, 2010). "Small specialty food companies moving into Oakland’s factory spaces". Oakland North. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Shortridge, B.G.; Shortridge, J.R. (1998). The Taste of American Place: A Reader on Regional and Ethnic Foods. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-8476-8507-3.
- "A Passion for Asian Foods : Markets: City officials suspect that many non-residents flock to Monterey Park for its specialty food stores. One developer is banking on it.". Los Angeles Times Articles. June 6, 1991. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- "Boulder Specialty closes IPO". Denver Business Journal. December 22, 2005. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Centennial Specialty Foods loses nearly 800K". Denver Business Journal. March 31, 2005. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Centennial Specialty being delisted". Denver Business Journal. October 25, 2005. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Innovative Food Holdings Launches Retail-Focused Specialty and Organic Food Offering, Acquires Organic Food Brokers, LLC". PR Newswire. October 1, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- Fromartz, S. (2007). Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-547-41600-7. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Connecticut Food Association". Connecticut Food Association. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Connecticut Specialty Food Association". Connecticut Specialty Food Association. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Massachusetts Specialty Foods Association". Massachusetts Specialty Foods Association. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Who we are". Specialty Food Association. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Specialty Food Foundation Announces Grants to 14 Anti-Hunger Programs". Food Shift. December 17, 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Markley, K.; Hilchey, D.; Program, Cornell Farming Alternatives (1998). Adding Value for Sustainability: A Guidebook for Cooperative Extension Agents and Other Agricultural Professionals. Community agriculture development series. Farming Alternatives Program. pp. 55–58. ISBN 978-0-7881-8993-7.
- "South Carolina Specialty Food Association". South Carolina Specialty Food Association. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "Vermont Specialty Food Association". Vermont Specialty Food Association. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Zhao, Y. (2012). Specialty Foods: Processing Technology, Quality, and Safety. Science & food technology. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-4398-5423-5.
- Bowden, J. (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What You Should Eat and Why. Fair Winds Press. pp. 221–240. ISBN 978-1-61673-416-9.
- Gourmet News (v. 62). United Publications, Incorporated. 1997. p. 74. ISSN 1052-4630