Leatherhead Food Research (LFR), will focus on identifying consumption patterns, perceptions and motivations for consuming ‘suitable for’ products. Results will be published in December.
“Demand for food and drink production suitable for consumption by people with specific allergies and intolerances is reportedly on the rise,” said LFR.
“While only a small proportion of the population has a clinically diagnosed allergy to food… a great deal more believe they suffer from an intolerance to certain foods.
“Moreover, it is believed that there is a growing body of consumers with ‘designer disorders’ – the reasons for consuming dairy-, gluten-, wheat- free product are often linked to other psychological motivations such as weight loss,” it added.
The researchers plan to survey consumers and conduct in-depth interviews with industry leaders in order to: “Identify and evaluate the potential market opportunities for ‘suitable for’ products”.
The research will reveal how much priority manufacturers give to the sector and the level of investment committed to it.
It will also study what rate of growth and return manufacturers expect from the sector plus how competitive they consider it to be, LFR added.
Industry participants could include two questions of their own in the survey, which will be reported back in a separate confidential report. The questions will examine perceptions, attitudes and motivations for consuming ‘suitable for’ foods as well as perceptions of allergen labelling. It will also look at consumption patterns and opportunities for increasing them, said LFR.
The research will be co-funded by a group of food and drink companies and will cover the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States. 3,000 consumers – 500 from each country – plus up to 20 major manufacturers, retailers and food service companies will be surveyed.
Need or fad?
The report will also look at the level of understanding manufacturers have regarding labelling legislation and whether demand for ‘suitable for’ products is being driven “by a real need or a fad”, said LFR.
LFR defined the ‘suitable for’ market as products that are: suitable for diabetics, gluten free, reduced or free from allergens and low or free from lactose.
The market for food intolerance products reached £115.8M last year, up 7% from 2009, according to data from research group Euromonitor International.
Gluten free accounted for most of this – accounting for 67% of volume and 71% of value last year.
The food intolerance market is expected to reach a retail value of £132.4M by 2015, compared with £73M retail value in 2005, said Euromonitor.