There's a huge potential market of foods for people with food intolerances and allergies that is being met, according to the global market research firm, Euromonitor International.
An article by Melissa Suggitt, Food intolerance products have massive growth potential in the UK, said:
Food allergies or “sensitivities” are on the rise in the UK, but the food industry is struggling to meet consumer demand for ever more specialised food intolerance products. As a result, many sufferers remain uncatered for or have to hunt around for highly priced items in specialist outlets. According to market analyst, Euromonitor International, now is the time for food manufacturers and retailers to realise that food intolerance products are no longer niche and hold massive growth potential in the UK.
The UK is the third-biggest market for gluten-free foods (after the US and Italy), amounting to GBP47 million in 2006. Value sales of lactose-free products (dairy products, ice cream, baby foods) have increased by 29% since 2002, reaching GBP23 million in 2006.
However, there is still much room for improvement. In an interview with Euromonitor International, a Food and Drinks Advisor at Coeliac UK confirmed that, although it was now much easier to get hold of specialist products, people resented having to pay such high premiums, and that most sufferers would like to see more “normal” products, such as gluten-free jaffa cakes, pitta breads, pizzas, sausage rolls or maybe even a pork pie. Such products do exist, but availability is limited to large stores.
Euromonitor International suggests that food manufacturers would do well to further their investment in products that can be confidently labelled as free from wheat, gluten, cows milk, lactose, egg, soya, nuts and ominous additives, such as sulphites. Now would be a good time for larger players to acquire small specialist companies, who can provide uncontaminated products from their custom-built production facilities. Such companies can blossom once provided with adequate resources, as demonstrated by organic companies such as Rachel's Dairy (acquired by Dean Foods) and Green & Blacks (acquired by Cadbury Schweppes).
Euromonitor International wants to sell its pricey marketing reports and databases, of course, but the above is accurate. The UK has always lagged behind the North American market in the easy availability of specialty foods. And the US and Canadian markets could do with more and more affordable foods as well.
I hope some manufacturers are listening.