Emmet Doyle, North America Office, Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board
In 2014 the US specialty food market rose 10.3% to $109.5 billion, according to the Specialty Food Association. Retail sales accounted for $85.5 billion, while food service accounted for the remaining $24 billion. In comparison, in 2014 US general food sales rose by 2%. The specialty category is driven by a consumer segment searching for products which are novel, unique, healthier and can be trusted. Such attributes as previously covered in Bord Bia’s Consumer Lifestyle Trends 2014.
Some leading US food and drink brands have looked to enter the strongly performing specialty food category through product extensions, partnerships and acquisitions. For example:
• Coca Cola Co. partnership with Select Milk producers, fairlife Milk
• Pepisco Inc. launching their own craft cola, Caleb’s Kola
• General Mills acquisition of Annie’s Homegrown, a leading organic manufacturer of pastas, meals and snacks.
• Anheuser-Busch InBev acquisitions of Oregon 10 Barrel & Elysian Brewing Company.
The latest addition to this arena is Häagen-Dazs, who have teamed up with six craft food producers from across the US to launch Häagen – Dazs Artisan, which is a collection of six new artisan ice-creams.
One of the chosen producers is Claire Keane of ClaireSquares. Claire, a native of Cork, Ireland, set up ClaireSquares 7 years ago in San Francisco, California. Her collaboration with Häagen-Dazs is ‘Chocolate Caramelized Oat’, which is a twist on the traditional Irish flapjack. The official launch was held in New York in April, and these ice-creams will be on sale for the next year across the US, retailing at $5.29 for a 14-oz* carton (414ml).
While the US market is undoubtedly challenging for an overseas supplier, particularly when it comes to time, money and people resources, opportunity does exist for Irish manufacturers, be it on an individual basis or by leveraging the resources of well established brands - similarly to Cashel Blue's association with Kerrygold in the US.
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