ASI Selects Food Gifts As Its 2021 “Product of the Year”

322 promo products suppliers now showcasing food gifts in ASI’s ESP®

The Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI), the largest membership organization in the $20.7 billion promotional products industry, today named food gifts as its 2021 Product of the Year.

Already a perennial favorite in the promo industry, particularly in the fourth quarter, food gifts exploded during the pandemic. ESP data shows that food gift searches increased by 25% in 2020 compared to 2019. In November 2020 alone, searches spiked nearly 70% compared to November 2019.

And while searches in 2021 decreased slightly compared to last year (as live events and in-person work returned, along with dormant product categories that suffered in 2020), searches for food gifts this year through 11 months were still up 22% compared to 2019.

There are currently 322 suppliers carrying food gifts in ASI’s ESP, the industry’s number-one business and technology platform, averaging over 2.4 million distributor searches per month and relied upon by 35 of the Top 40 distributors.

“Food gifts were an incredibly important part of so many people’s lives over the last two years, providing instant comfort and an ‘experience in a box,’” said C.J. Mittica, Editor-in-Chief of ASI Media. “I always love receiving food gifts, and there are millions of others who feel the same way. It never fails to brighten up someone’s day. That’s why it’s our Product of the Year.”

For more on ASI Media’s Product of the Year, check out a recent story by Sara Lavenduski, executive editor for digital content at ASI. The story details the many ways companies hungry to connect with clients and employees turned to food gifts, helping sales in a challenged economy.

As ASI reports, suppliers broadened offerings and perfected shipping to deliver fresh goods like fruit, bagels, soft pretzels and even ice cream and hot sauce, along with charcuterie and cutting boards. And, as an increasing number of retail food companies and distinctive small vendors enter the industry, buyers proved willing to pay for brand recognition or a unique story.

Another trend key to disposable items like food is packaging. As kitting and fulfillment took off in the past two years, custom packaging/presentation became a must-have as food became a critical piece to add to bundles of promo items delivered to homes. Plus, the sheer demand of food gifts in kitting compelled major suppliers to add them to their lineup.