Report: More consumers follow chef pins, bring home (Nueske) bacon

It’s not just affluent retirees buying fresh pasta, specialty mustards and artisan honeys. Nearly 3/4 of all Americans buy specialty food prodCheeses -- like this selection from Iowa's Milton Creamery - lead the pack for specialty food purchasesucts, led by consumers aged 18-24, according to the 2013 Specialty Food Association report. No surprises here: chocolate, coffee, cheese and oils, as well as Italian, Mexican and Chinese food are the top selling categories – while items like quinoa and Greek food are gaining ground.

Good news: Consumers are increasingly bringing home specialty food items for everyday use versus special occasions such as dinner parties, and (thanks Food Network and PBS) they consider themselves better educated about those choices -- as well as what to do when they get their groceries home.

Savoring social: Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter were all noted by more than 50% of those polled as the top social media channels to engage with retailers and restaurants. I follow (and discuss) hundreds of chefs and restaurants on Twitter, but mainly use Pinterest for home menu inspirations and recipes. Are your favorite restaurants using Pinterest to entice you to come in on a Tuesday night?

Going mobile + local: More than 40% of percent of specialty food consumers are buying food on their mobile devices, and nearly half purchase foods with locally-grown ingredients.