Mintel projects a rosy future for FreeFrom – September 2012


Basing his presentation on Mintels' new FreeFrom report, Chris Brockman, Senior Global Food and Drink analyst at Mintel, gave a very up-beat forecast for freefrom foods at the Food and Drink Innovation FreeFrom Seminar last month.

His full presentation, complete with figures and charts, is free to download from the FDIN website, but here are the highlights:

• Incidence of allergy, coeliac disease and lactose intolerance

Allergies: Still on the rise with up to 13% of UK adults being prone to a specific food allergy, and food allergies being significantly more common among children.

Coeliac Disease: Put at 1% of the population with an estimated further 10% following a gluten-free diet.

Lactose intolerance: Estimates range from 5–15% of the population.

Growth in UK sales of freefrom food:

2006–2011 – increase of 109%
2011–2016 – projected increase of 71%

• Why are consumers buying freefrom?

Lifestyle choices are as important as allergy/intolerance avoidance

• How many are avoiding what?

8% consumer avoid dairy for health reasons
7% avoid dairy for lifestyle reasons
8% avoid wheat
9% avoid gluten
8% avoid nuts

• Some comparisons between the UK and US market

• New Product Development

Gluten free continues strong in US and UK with a number of 'big brands' getting on board and specialists expanding their offer.

'Naturalness' remains important factor in winning new audiences

Lactose free NPD relatively weak in UK compared to US, Germany and Finland although the UK market is of comparable size to gluten free.
Lactose free NPD also now looking beyond soya to nut milks, coconut milk etc.
Growing popularity of 'ethical' claims in the lactose-free marketplace.

• Mintels conclusions

Mintel does not believe freefrom to be a fad:

a. 'While 'celebrity diet' aspect may fade, the number of consumers looking for freefrom products for general health purposes is likely to increase'
b. Better diagnosis will increase the numbers of consumers who require such products
c. Young adults are most aware of intolerances/sensitivities, meaning a longer lifespan for the trend

e. Many major players yet to enter the markets – they will spur NPD further
f. Further development in quality overcoming taste issues will reduce barriers to purchase
g. Continued growth should allow a reduction in price differential, also reducing barriers to purchase
h. More products will be position 'for everyone' and just happen to be gluten free.

i. On line technology, social media and apps give consumers more power to seek out freefrom solutions
j. FreeFrom foods have the opportunity to develop a strong overlap with healthy eating, 'natural' and environmentally friendly trends ensuring a multi-layered appeal.

The full report is available from Mintel here.

Chris Brockman's full presentation, complete with charts and figures, is available from the FDIN website here.


Further Mintel research looking at health claims in the Asia-Pacific countries ranks India at the forefront of health awareness although additives and preservatives are currently of more interest than 'freefrom'.

Their recent survey found that between 2008 and 2011 'free of additive and preservatives' claims went up form 14% to 18% (the second biggest market in the region for no additives claims is Australia with 15%, the third biggest, Thailand with 13% and the fourth China with 12%).

Although way behind, 'freefrom' claims are also growing from 1% in 2008 to 2% in 2011.


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First Published in September 2012