Vermont specialty foods are an important subset of the state’s overall value-added product market. Food manufacturing is the second-largest manufacturing industry in Vermont, with $3 billion in economic output. Specialty foods are considered unique, high-quality food items typically produced in smaller quantities than their mass-market counterparts. As such, they may command a higher price point, though increasingly specialty food providers compete against less-expensive, mass-produced brands. Many Vermont specialty food companies have grown to be nationally recognized brands. These enterprises create diverse employment opportunities including manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and sales. They are also an avenue for business owners to contribute to the state’s food system—ideally through sourcing local raw ingredients—and economic development. Additionally, specialty food items are an important diversification tool for some farmers, providing a critical year-round revenue stream either from the sale of ingredients to another producer or from manufacture and sale of their own products.
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