Faire, the online wholesale marketplace serving 600,000 neighborhood shops, has seen huge growth in the specialty food and beverage category, with independent stores becoming an increasingly important place for new brands to reach consumers.
The number of grocery and specialty stores buying on the Faire marketplace has jumped by 130 percent over the past year. More than 100,000 small retailers currently are buying food and beverage brands on the platform.
Faire announced today that the number of orders for food and beverage brands placed by retailers on its marketplace has reached the one million mark.
The growth, Faire executives believe, reflects a shift by consumers to local specialty food stores as places where they can discover new products and learn new ways to cook at home. That shift is causing both startups and established brands to seek out neighborhood stores as a key marketing and distribution strategy.
Recent reports by the Specialty Food Association show that specialty food brick-and-mortar stores have increased by 20% since 2020, and that specialty food sales rose 7.4% in 2021 to $175 billion.
Faire in recent years also has seen demand for specialty food and beverage brands from retailers that aren’t strictly food stores, such as gift shops or specialty boutiques, Faire Chief Financial Officer Lauren Cooks Levitan said.
“During the pandemic there were a lot of stores that were trying to add additional product categories to their stores,” she said.
“We were getting a lot of inbound requests from our retailers for more food and beverage product, and there’s just so much interesting brand formation in the food and beverage world,” Cooks Levitan said.
Momofuku Goods, the specialty Asian food brand founded by chef David Chang, was one of the brands Faire recruited this year to sell on its platform. It quickly became the best-selling food brand launch on Faire, with 753 retailers currently buying Momofuku products.
Marguerite Mariscal, Momofuku CEO, said the Faire platform has helped the brand get placed in stores in parts of the country “where we don’t have restaurants or even knew that there was a following. It’s great to be discovered via Faire.”
Most of the new store accounts Momofuku has acquired through Faire have been physical stores, Mariscal said. “For us, that’s the exciting part,” she said, “What’s great about these independent or smaller grocery chains is the ability to form a more intimate relationship with their customer.”
“It’s something that we can’t do as a company, in either a digital experience, or a larger footprint brick-and-mortar,” she said. “Faire offers that retail experience that is very unique and helps especially when you’re a new brand in retail. It helps spread the word and it helps with trial, because a lot of these places are trusted for their taste, and if our products are in there, it’s already a stamp of approval,” Mariscal said.
“There’s a focus and deliberateness to the placement in a lot of these stores with smaller assortments,” increasing the impact of being on the shelves at those stores, she said.
The Faire marketplace was launched in 2017 as a way for neighborhood stores to compete against Walmart
“Up and coming brands are really eager to be able to tap into this much harder to reach independent channel, and Faire enables them to do that,” Cooks Levitan said.
“Getting in Epicurean Trader for example in San Francisco, that’s the nirvana, because they’re the tastemakers,” Cooks Levitan said. “Getting shelf space in a store like that is a huge win for a brand.”
In response to the spike in interest in food and beverage sales, Faire today announced new features to meet the demand, including the ability for brands to provide expanded product descriptions that allow retailers search for food and beverage offerings based on details such as ingredients, allergens, and shelf life.
Faire also is now selling alcohol on the marketplace, in 14 countries in Europe where regulations on the sale of alcohol are not as restrictive. or locality-specific, as they are in the United States.
“As we expanded to Europe, we were seeing a lot of our retailers were asking us” for alcoholic beverage options, Cook Levitan said.
In the United States, Faire has a seen increased sales of non-alcoholic specialty beverages.
De Soi, the non-alcoholic aperitifs brand co-founded by Katy Perry joined Faire in January, 2022. De Soi CEO Scout Brisson said Faire has made it easy for the brand to be discovered by independent stores, where they can reach new customers. “We’ve seen clear consumer demand for a personal, tactile shopping experience,” that neighborhood specialty stores can provide, Brisson said.