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Chocolate and gluten-free top hot trends in holiday gift-giving this year

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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.

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“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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