Black Farmer backs gluten-free study

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Emmanuel-Jones launched The Black Farmer gluten-free sausage brand in 2010
Emmanuel-Jones launched The Black Farmer gluten-free sausage brand in 2010

Related tags: Gluten-free diet, Coeliac disease

Sausage maker The Black Farmer has thrown its weight behind a Lancaster University Management School project to find out the precise motivations behind consumers turning to gluten-free products.

The company launched premium gluten-free sausage brand The Black Farmer in 2010 and has announced it is sponsoring the research.

“It is so exciting to be working with a group of students from Lancaster University on this project, which in itself is fascinating,”​ said boss of the company Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones.

“They have a fresh approach and are as enthusiastic as I am to find out more. I’m sure they will come up with some interesting and revealing findings.”

12M people

Coeliac UK estimates one in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease, but only a quarter of those are diagnosed and follow a gluten-free diet. Yet statistics indicate that more than 12M people – a staggering 80 times the number of diagnosed coeliacs – are following a gluten-free lifestyle from choice.

“I think it is a staggering statistic that many millions of people are following a gluten-free diet as a lifestyle choice,”​ said Emmanuel-Jones. “But we don’t really understand the reason why. Is it for health benefits? To lose weight? A fad? Celebrity-led? Or simply that if one member of the family needs to follow a gluten-free diet, then the rest of the family follows suit?

“And is it these people who are fuelling the massive growth in the free-from grocery market which has doubled in value in the last five years?”

Reach £540M by 2018

Worth £135M five years ago, the ‘free-from’ market grew to £355M in 2013–2014 and is growing at 19.9% year-on-year [Kantar Worldpanel, 52 weeks ending April 14, 2014]. Mintel has forecast that it would reach £540M by 2018.

Helen Meek, from Lancaster University Management School, said: “It is really interesting that so many people are choosing gluten-free diets as a lifestyle choice. Our marketing students will investigate the motivations behind these choices so we can gain a better understanding of these consumers’ behaviour and also provide recommendations to Black Farmer.

“This research project is also a fantastic practical learning experience for our students that will help to equip them with industry-relevant skills when they enter the workforce.”

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