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    Chocolate Ranks High Among Holiday Gift-givers

    Baked goods, alcohol, gluten-free round out seasonal favorites

    Among the top product categories for food gift-giving this holiday season, specialty food professionals rank chocolate (42 percent), baked goods (36 percent), alcoholic beverages (25 percent) and gluten-free fare (20 percent) as their favorites, according to a recent survey conducted by the Specialty Food Association.

    “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 Trends

    According to the survey, specialty food professionals predict that consumers will gravitate to a mix of traditional and non-traditional flavors and ingredients this season, including chocolate (42 percent), pumpkin (29 percent), ginger (23 percent) and peppermint (22 percent) in the traditional category; and sea salt (23 percent), bacon (20 percent), bourbon/whiskey (12 percent) and truffles (11 percent) in the non-traditional category.

    The Inside Scoop

    When asked what they plan to give their friends this holiday season, industry insiders ranked cheese (72 percent), alcohol (69 percent), chocolate (63 percent) and jams/jellies/preserves/honey (60 percent) as their favorites. To family members, they are most likely to give baked goods (72 percent) and olive oil (67 percent).

    Information Specialists Group, Inc. conducted the survey on behalf of the Specialty Food Association, among a representative sample of 250 specialty food professionals.

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