Artisan food business booming nationally and in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The specialty food industry is a $120 billion business, and it's grown 60 percent in just the last year. Experts say it's booming, in part to young adults ages 20 to 40.

Specialty cheeses run the gamut at Whole Foods in Fresno. The store sells more than 300 varieties from different countries. Cheese specialist Chrissy Dillard says millennials want more than just a bite of food, they want an experience and information.

"A lot of them want to know how the animals are being tested at the farms," she said. "Are they eating foods that is non-GMO, is it organic? Are they local, how far is it traveling."

Dillard says she often helps choose their cheeses, which is one of the popular items young people spend their money on. According to the Speciality Food Association, young people are spending around $50 a week on items like cheese, chocolates and beverages, like craft beer.

"I think it's just something different," Justin Gano with Whole Foods said. "It's not what dad has always drank for the whole time you were growing up. Maybe you'll spend $12 on a big 22 ounce of beer to try something different."

Father of four Dean Guerrine says he feels good about his purchases and enjoys specialty items himself.

"I'd almost prefer to live paycheck to paycheck to make sure the kids get really well looked after and get the organic produce then have to worry about anything like that," he explained.

Over at Sam's Italian deli, the 36-year-old business is also seeing younger faces.

"I think they come to us because they're looking for something different," Nick Marziliano with the deli said. We have a lot of that here and we have the artisan products."

It's that experience and local connection that keeping millennials spending more on specialty foods.
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