Specialty Foods Go Mainstream Credit: Dreamstime.com

Move over, meat and potatoes. There’s a new gourmet trend in town that’s giving the old staples of American cuisine a run for their money. Statistics published this month in Food Technology magazine show that a growing number of consumers are adding new and exotic items to their shopping lists. Some of the new foods that mainstream customers are buying include: specialty chocolates, oils, cheeses, yogurts and kefir, a fermented milk drink.

This so-called "foodie" phenomenon is blurring the lines between mainstream and specialty food items , with once unheard of edibles now showing up on dinner plates across the country.  

Here are some of the latest statistics on the growing gourmet trend in the United States as reported by Package Facts, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, and the 2012 Culinary Visions Panel Survey.

• Seventy-six percent of adults say they enjoy talking about new or interesting foods.

• Fifty-three percent of adults watch cooking shows regularly.

• Sixty-eight percent of adults purchase specialty foods to make home-cooked meals.

• A total of $75.1 billion was spent on specialty foods in 2011.

• Fifty-seven percent of food shoppers bought Italian specialty items in 2012.

• Fifty-six percent of food shoppers bought Mexican specialty items in 2012.