Get your Start Here
Sonoma County is home to some of the most innovative specialty food producers in the country. Amy’s Kitchen, La Tortilla Factory, Traditional Medicinals Teas, Alvarado Street Bakery, McEvoy Ranch and Clover Stornetta Farms all got their start here in Sonoma County. In recent years, a new generation of local food makers is emerging and creating a wide array of specialty foods, from kombucha tea and saurerkraut, to salsas and specialty cheeses.
2016 Specialty Food Statistics
- Overall, the specialty food market accounts for 14.1 percent of all food sales
- The specialty food sector grew 21.2 percent since 2013 with sales topping $120.5 billion in 2015.
- Sales from foodservice increased 27 percent, as more U.S. consumers are dining out and seeking high-quality, flavorful foods when doing so.
- The top three specialty food categories in 2016 are: Cheese/Cheese Alternatives; Frozen and Refrigerated Meat; Poultry, Seafood; and Chips, Pretzels, Snacks. Ready-to-drink (RTD) tea and coffee saw the largest growth rate at 301 percent.
- Three trends holding steady are—Fresh, Protein, and Convenience—as evidenced in the specialty food categories showing the most sales growth in 2016.
- Latin American, particularly Cuban cuisine, continues to gain in popularity.
- Gen Xers (age 39-50) are more likely to read nutrition labels and will spend a premium on quality ingredients.
- Convenience is king for young millennials, which is going to play a big role in how they engage in food shopping and prep.
Source: The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2015, 2016
EDB Sector Support
In 2014, the EDB hosted a forum of craft and artisanal food producers to better understand the issues and opportunities within this sector.
- Promote Craft Food and Beverages brand for Sonoma County
- Identify additional business/funding opportunities to support craft food and beverage businesses
- Make permit/regulation process more streamlined and easier to navigate
- Support food production options within the County
In 2016, the EDB will be working to identify ways to support and grow small-scale craft food producers in Sonoma County.