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Rising allergen-free demand spurs free-from food launches

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

28-Feb-2014

Rising allergen-free demand spurs free-from food launches

Demand for allergen-free foods is on the rise – a trend witnessed by ingredient supplier EHL Ingredients, which says sales of its allergen-free spices have climbed sharply in the past 12 months.

According to market research organisation Mintel, 20% of UK consumers said they regularly bought free-from foods during 2012, a category that includes gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, lactose-free and egg-free foods, among others. Meanwhile, EHL says that overall, it has seen a 20% increase in demand for its allergen-free ingredients over the past year.

“We developed our allergen-free ingredient blends following demand from customers in the food manufacturing sector as many companies have now started producing allergen-free foods for both children and adults to enjoy,” said sales director at EHL Ingredients Tasneem Backhouse.

In particular, the company said its allergen-free curry powder blend had seen sales increase 35% in the past year, citing an increase in the number of food allergy sufferers in the UK and stricter allergen labelling rules, due to be implemented in December with the EU’s Provision of Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation.

Indeed, market research organisation Mintel found that the number of lactose-free and gluten-free products has risen significantly in Europe over the past five years, in a search of its Global New Products Database (GNPD). In 2009, for example, 4.5% of newly launched dairy products across the EU carried a lactose-free claim, but this had risen to 6.4% by 2013.

“Germany is strong in this area,” the market researcher told FoodNavigator, adding that 12.1% of dairy products were marketed as lactose-free in 2013, up from 6.4% five years earlier.

For gluten-free claims, the UK is among the most developed European markets, Mintel said, with about 10% of newly launched snacks, bakery and cereal products claiming to be gluten-free for the past five years. Across the EU, 8.3% of such products made gluten-free claims last year, up from 5.9% in 2009.

Backhouse added: “For us, the last 12 months have witnessed a huge increase in demand and sales and we see this as a trend that will continue due to several factors: the increase in self-diagnosis of food allergies and intolerances; the popularity of free-from diets; and the increase in NPD in this sector with some products becoming more mainstream and having a broader appeal in the marketplace.”

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