According to a survey released by the Specialty Food Association this week, the top food products for holiday gift-giving this year were revealed. The hottest categories repeated perennial favorites like chocolate, baked goods and alcoholic beverages. Last year, Americans spent $86 billion on specialty food indicating a huge appetite for gourmet market products - everything from artisanal chocolates and cheeses to olive oils and charcuterie. The newest product category this year is gluten-free foods designated as the “hottest” by 20 percent of the survey's participants.
“Specialty food producers bring craft and care to the foods they create every day and are taking it up a notch for the holidays,” said Denise Purcell, editor of Specialty Food Media. “Whether a traditional favorite like chocolate or a new twist on a classic like gluten-free peppermint cookies, you can tell by the taste, appearance and packaging that you’re giving the gift of a special food experience.”
Top traditional flavors include: chocolate, pumpkin, ginger and peppermint. Non-traditional ingredients include: sea salt, bacon, bourbon/whiskey and truffles.
If you want to be a “foodie” insider and give a gift that an industry professional would most likely give to friends, head for your local cheese or chocolate shop or liquor store. Jams/jellies, preserves and honey also top the list. For family members, home-baked goods and olive oil were most popular.
And for your children’s favorite teachers, chocolate is the favorite food of choice. Another tip for a thoughtful gift is to give from local resources, where products come from local artisans and farms. A few resources in the upper Hudson Valley are: Hawthorne Valley Market for artisanal cheeses, jams and freshly baked items; artisanal cheeses from The Creamery at Twin Maple Farm and Old Chatham Sheepherding Company; Cool Whisper Farm for meats, Hudson-Chatham Winery for wines and Harney Teas for specially blended teas.
Have a happy and safe holiday season!
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