Celiac.com 01/16/2019 - Sales data from the EU show sales of free-from products rising steadily through 2017, in both Western and Eastern Europe. Euromonitor International reveals that total “free-from” food sales in those regions rose 11.7% and 8.7% respectively.
Interestingly, though demand for free-from foods is expanding into new markets, Euromonitor’s 2017 data shows that most new consumers of free-from products do not suffer from a medical condition or food intolerance that requires specialized food. Rather, new consumers are overwhelmingly free from food allergies or intolerances.
Meanwhile, even though growth in the allergen-free category, in general, stood at an anemic 1.3% in the combined region, the growth rate in the less developed markets of Eastern Europe stood out at 9.2%.
Mintel notes that 12% of all UK food product launches in 2015 carried a gluten-free claim, more than double the 2011 rate of 7%.
The data show that the public currently perceives free-from foods as generally healthier than their counterparts. This perception of health is a key market driver and has helped push the base of consumers beyond the traditional group of allergy or intolerance sufferers. Along with organics, health and wellness products have recorded the largest overall growth at a global level.
However, this reality leaves the free-from food category vulnerable to changes in perception. Indeed, research from Mintel found that more than half of consumers who currently buy free-from products would stop doing so if they thought they were "less healthy" than standard offerings.
To solidify and expand their product appeal, look for makers of free-from foods to improve the nutritional profile of their products, reducing sugars, fats, and salt, and to offer more grains, such as amaranth, quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, millet and teff, among other strategies.
Overall, look for new healthier, more nutritious breads, breakfast cereals, and snack bars to fill the shelves as consumers continue their quest for healthier, more nutritious foods.
That’s generally good news for free-from consumers who do have food allergies or intolerances. It likely means more nutritious, better tasting, better quality gluten-free, dairy-free and other free-from products in the future.
Read the full report at Mintel.com (Paywall).