Why are Americans Shifting to Gourmet Grocery Store Chains?

by Business 23 May 2024

Gourmet Grocery Store Chains

Since the pandemic, most Americans have focused on the quality of groceries. Obviously, the lookout for seasonal sales and discount coupons is still on. But 81% of American millennials prefer gourmet grocery now. You came to the right page if you also belong to that list. Your search for gourmet grocery store chains ends here.

I will discuss the top gourmet grocery chains in the US. I will also highlight why they are famous. In tandem, I will also share evidence of my research on the rise of gourmet grocery shopping in the US. 

So, what do people like most about gourmet grocery store chains? 

According to my research, US customers primarily seek superior and fresh food products, better customer service, and premium branded products, among other things. 

In February 2024, Yahoo Finance researched that Americans crave artisanal grocery products. Maybe you also prefer local fresh produce grown in a controlled environment while you do grocery shopping. 

Yes, that’s the shift in attitude towards grocery shopping among most Americans. 

What are Gourmet Grocery Stores?

What are Gourmet Grocery Stores

Gourmet stands for specialized or premium quality. 

The gourmet grocery stores focus on the quality of their products. They don’t focus as much on store ambiance and customer convenience. 

You will find organic produce, artisanal products like farm fresh cheese, rare and exotic spices, and other such products. 

Are they costlier? Yes! They are. 

But 60% of Americans say they are fed up buying affordable groceries. Now, they are ready to pay more for premium quality. 

Rise in Popularity of Gourmet Grocery Store Chains in the US

Rise in Popularity of Gourmet Grocery Store Chains in the US

Neilson surveyed that most Americans seek to try new products every day. Over 30000 hit store shelves every year to satisfy them. 

Most F&B market players now focus on product specialization. Even affordable daily shopping brands like Target launched their gourmet and coffee brands in 2020. 

But what other factors contributed to the rise in gourmet shopping?

The grocery sector contributes 3.5% of the US GDP alone. Certainly, a handful of famous brands need help to serve this enormous market.

However, small players like Zabar’s or Citarella Gourmet Market could not compete with brands like Target and Walmart over market share and penetration. 

Therefore, you will find that most of these brands compete over quality. 

The trend of farm-fresh local groceries started with them in the US. Now, 147,307 farms in the US produce organic grocery products. This sector is now valued at $9 billion. 

Emergence of Gourmet Grocery Store Chains

Emergence of Gourmet Grocery Store Chains

From small shops, the popularity of gourmet groceries started spreading. Slowly, gourmet grocery store chains began emerging.

Follow the growth trend below to understand how gourmet grocery store chains became popular.

TrendsGrowth Statistics
Statutory growthSince 2019, the market of gourmet groceries grew 15% YoY
E-commerceE-commerce grew 60% since 2020. These platforms allowed emerging gourmet grocery stores to sell across large areas
Healthier eating8.7% increase in home cooking in 2020; which shifted the focus towards gourmet groceries
Poor supply chain15% grocery supply chains were out of stock since the pandemic
DTC by organic farmsIn 2020, many farms sold their produce directly to retail consumers. The revenue earned was $10.7 billion. This is how many gourmet grocery stores emerged.
Contemporary Trends for the Rise of Gourmet Grocery Store Chains

We already saw that the pandemic and related changes maneuvered the growth of gourmet grocery store chains. But have you ever thought how did this become a regular practice? 

Well, I will discuss that now. Below are some trends that revolutionized gourmet grocery store shopping in the US.

Change in Consumer Preferences

Most Americans are ready to pay higher prices for high-quality groceries. The demand for artisanal products also increased. In 2024, the market of specialty foods (most artisanal) is $12.4 billion (about $38 per person in the US)

The Social Media Impact

Many YouTubers have promoted artisanal food markets in the US since the lockdown. You and I also came across many such videos. 

We are also frequently posting about artisanal or gourmet grocery brands from where we get good products on Instagram or Facebook. 

Diverse Product Offerings

Most gourmet grocery store chains maintain a diverse portfolio of products. While shopping, I saw an extensive range of gourmet product categories. For example, I went to Gourmet Garage last Saturday, 

The gourmet products I found there are:

  • Farm fresh cheese
  • Organic meat
  • handmade breads
  • Premium chocolates 
  • Charcuterie from the local farms
Popular Gourmet Grocery Store Chains in the US

Now that gourmet grocery shopping is up-trend in the US, you must locate the best shops. Below, I discussed the features of some of the most popular gourmet grocery store chains in the US.

Agata & Valentina

One of the most popular brands in the gourmet grocery niche is Agata & Valentina. This chain of stores started its journey in 1993. What’s unique about them?

They have an exceptionally curated collection of local and globally popular seafood. You will find fresh salmon there. Also, there are trout, Alaskan crab, branzino, Dover sole, and turbot. 

They also sell more than 100 variants of gourmet cheese. But I visit them for their imported natural olive oil. 

However, Americans are impressed by the dynamic range of coffee that Agata & Valentina sells. There are more than 60 coffee variants there. All of those are private labels. 

Island Pacific Market

This is a heaven for Asian fishes. I visited their store to buy exotic seasonings. I also got the best quality shrimp there at the most reasonable prices. It isn’t easy to find fresh squid here too. But not at the Island Pacific market. 

Island Pacific also has a wide range of exotic meats and unique cuts. In the US, the demand for exotic meat increased from 4.9 to 35.5%. Undoubtedly, the Island Pacific will soon be a meat-shopping heaven for Americans. 

Harris Teeter

One of the finest gourmet grocery stores in the US is Harris Teeter. They run 261 locations in the US. Now, they are famous for their gourmet bakery goods, unprocessed dairy, local produce, organic meat, and others. 

According to Supermarket News, Harris Teeter ranks 35th among the top 75 stores in the US gourmet grocery market. 

PCC Community Markets

This is a cooperative community market. It is formed by farmers for D2C selling. It now operates in more than 16 locations across the US. There are 58000 farmers linked with this cooperative. Therefore, you can imagine the variety of products you will get here. 

PCC is also a certified retailer of organic produce. However, the factors that make their gourmet collection special are:

  • Focus on local products only
  • Serving only fresh products to customers 
  • Sustainable farming by the members 
  • A comprehensive collection of all seasonal grocery
  • Most products are made from scratch daily


Wegmans is one of the few stores that sells premium groceries at a much lower price than Whole Foods. One of my recent favorites among the gourmet grocery store chains, Wegmans, started in 1941. 

They brought the European open-air market concept to the US. They run local mills to serve the freshest products to customers. 

Challenges Facing Gourmet Grocery Store Chains

Challenges Facing Gourmet Grocery Store Chains

With growing popularity, these brands face some sustainability challenges. Above all, they must prosper in their business and serve premium products. I have listed the most common challenges that they face.

  • Maintaining the authenticity of products and making the brand appealing simultaneously: Most of these brands are owned by artisanal farmers or small businesspeople trying to build a Pan-American brand. Their business knowledge and stock capital are equally low. They also need more marketing ideas and resources. 
  • High penetration of more prominent brands: Despite the presence of artisanal grocery chains, the market is mainly oligopolistic. You will see a Target, Whole Foods, or Walmart store opening every other day. But how many stores do the gourmet grocery store chains have? 


The number of Gormet grocery store chains in the US is increasing. In conclusion, the growing consumer demand drives this growth. The popularity of stores like Walmart or Target is unparalleled. 

However, the artisanal store chains have seen massive growth in recent times. They can make scalable brands in the future. I feel that more Americans will soon be attracted to gourmet grocery.  Have you picked your favorite gourmet grocery chain? Still waiting? Please read the full article about my favorite gourmet grocery store chains in the US.

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Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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