What a great time to be a consumer that enjoys quality food in the United States….Aka a foodie. Interest in all areas of food continues to achieve unprecedented growth. According to the annual report from The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2016, specialty food sales hit $120.5 billion in the U.S. in 2015. Driving this demand are a couple things: growing consumer interest and concern about where food comes, and an interest in adventurous flavors and international foods.
Small specialty food retailers that carry gourmet foods have arrived on the radar of large retailers like Target and Kroger, who are working overtime to capture some of this market share—consumers who are eager to try new and adventurous foods from harissa to curry. Food & Nutrition reports that “According to Global market research firm Mintel, sales in the ethnic food sector have climbed steadily since 2004, reaching $2.2 billion in 2009 and growing to 8.7 billion in 2012. Analysts predict another growth of more than 20 percent from 2012 to 2017.”
Independent gourmet shops and supermarkets are not the only retailers feeding this demand. Food Halls have upgraded the food court concept to a new level. Since arriving in the U.S. in 2010, these multi-faceted indoor markets exhibit an array of food vendors. Places like Eataly which now has two locations in New York, a store in Chicago and Boston and plans to soon open in LA are finding white space and filling it not only with everything from imported olive oil and gelato, but by providing an experience reminiscent to being in Italy.
Americans have become increasingly concerned and educated about where their food comes from and food halls provide unlimited options and the ability to see and purchase what might have previously only been available on an international foods website. Originating abroad; some offer the option to “dine around the world” with cuisines like sushi, pizza and tacos, all under the same roof like the Plaza Food Hall in New York and Liberty Public Market in San Diego. Americans are more and more concerned about where their food comes from and food halls give them unlimited options. Food halls have evolved into culinary amusement parks offering something for everyone.
It will be interesting to see how this trend continues to evolve and become more mainstream with locations in smaller U.S. cities. It’s clear that consumers are receptive to new concepts and when they have the stamp of approval from celebrity chefs like Todd English (Plaza Food Hall) and Anthony Bourdain who will be opening Bourdain Market in 2019, how can we go wrong?
To learn more about the latest and greatest Food Halls coming to a city near you 2017 check out this list released by Restaurant Business.