Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine Predicts Specialty Food Products to Become the New Mainstream Market

Consumers today have higher expectations for the food service industry. Millennials and Gen Z specifically are looking for specialty foods that offer more options for a healthier diet.

Whether it’s creating new chef-inspired meals and products, or chefs using specialty food products in their menus, the specialty food industry is on the rise. Earning in $140.3 billion within the last year, there is a convergence between chefs and specialty food makers to meet these expectations.

At the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, Foodable’s Paul Barron sat down with Robert Irvine, celebrity chef, and owner of Robert Irvine Foods, as they discussed the role of specialty food in food service and the latest dining trends.

“I think you used to say specialty foods were a market on its own. Not anymore...It’s mainstream. Specialty foods are now going into the mainstream world of retail and kitchens and hotels,” said Irvine at the 2018 Summer Fancy Foods Show. “If you come up with a great product, I’m gonna use that product in my environment because it saves me time, and it saves me labor.”

Chef Irvine also unpacks the role that social media plays into these trending specialty foods. Dining for Millennials and Gen Z is at a peak. Millennial consumers are in their prime spending and earning years, and Gen Z consumers are emerging to become more knowledgeable consumers.

With their social media behaviors and expectations of the food service industry, Millennials and Gen Z control the way consumers eat.

“A Millennial, and a Gen Z...will pay more money to go to a restaurant, that is busy, and can be seen. Even if they have to use a credit card to go into debt to do it...we want to be seen in those places,” said Irvine. “Social media has played such a big part in product sales, restaurant, hotels. Where do we go, when do we go, what to do we eat, oh and by the way, I’m here and you’re not.”

Watch the video above to learn more about what the future of specialty foods may look like.