The growth of Waitrose is a bigger threat to the future of independent delis and farm shops than retail giants Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's, according to the Guild of Fine Foods.
In a poll for the Guild's official magazine, Fine Food Digest, 65% of store owners said they considered the retailer to be more of a worry than any other chain.
Meanwhile, 60% thought Waitrose's expansion plans - it aims to more than double sales to £8bn a year through an aggressive store-opening programme over the next decade - was bad news for delis and farm shops.
The survey respondents were right to be worried, said John Farrand, director of the Guild. "Waitrose actively mimics delis and farm shops with speciality and locally sourced foods, but often at lower prices because of its buying power. There's no doubt it's more of a threat than, say, Tesco or Asda."
Waitrose's latest TV campaign, which explains its commitment to local sourcing, was only heightening fears among specialists that they would lose customers to the chain, the Guild said.
One retailer, Diane Brown of Provender Brown in Perth, said: "My biggest fear would be Waitrose opening in our area. While it may not offer everything we do, I would expect it to have a devastating impact."
But a spokeswoman for Waitrose said: "As the vast majority of Waitrose shops are in town centre locations, our experience suggests we complement other retailers by helping to drive footfall to town centres."