25/02/2021 – Research / Allergies / Kirsty’s / Lactose / Gluten / Dairy / Wheat / Consumer / Study / UK
One-quarter of Brits have food intolerances or allergies, according to new study
More than one-quarter of the UK population have food allergies or intolerances today, according to research conducted with the aim of understanding the growing need for ‘free-from’ food options. The study was carried out by Kirsty’s, one of the nation’s favourite free-from brands, which has reported that sales of its chilled and frozen free-from products are up 127-per-cent YOY as demand for allergen-free food options grows.
According to new research, more than 18 million Brits have food allergies or intolerances, resulting in a considerable rise in demand for ‘free-from’ products.
The study – conducted by free-from brands Kirsty’s – revealed that one in four (25 per cent) Brits are intolerant or allergic to either lactose, gluten, dairy or wheat, while a further 10 per cent are unable to eat foods such as fish, poultry or eggs.
127% YOY increase in sales
Kirsty’s, which manufactures a range of chilled and frozen free-from products, recorded a 127-per-cent sales increase in one retailer this January compared to January 2020, as the demand for gluten and dairy free products continues to rise.
Kirsty Henshaw, who started the brand Kirsty’s after finding out her son was allergic to nuts and intolerant to gluten and dairy, believes that education has led to the increase in free-from diets.
“One in four now suffer from food allergies or intolerances, and this represents a huge slice of our population who lead ‘free-from’ diets,” observed Kirsty.
Younger generation more clued up on ingredients
“According to the research, 50 per cent of 18-24 year olds suffer from allergies and intolerances, showing that the younger generation are more aware than ever of what foods and specifically what ingredients we are putting in our bodies and how our bodies react to these foods,” she added.
But whilst only 30 per cent of over 50s felt they suffer from the same allergies and intolerances, Kirsty believes the real figure regarding allergy sufferers within this demographic is actually likely to be much.
“As we get older, often the symptoms of food allergies and intolerances are mistaken for other health problems such as IBS, and people sometimes feel like if they have always eaten white bread, it can’t be doing them any harm now,” Kirsty continued. “However, for this generation having grown up in a world where gluten- and dairy-free lifestyles were few and far between, there may still be a stigma associated with leading a ‘free-from’ diet, with many misinterpreting it as faddy or fussy eating. However, with 25 per cent of the UK population actively avoiding allergen laid food, ‘free-from’ can no longer be seen as a niche need,” she advised.
40% of Londoners lead ‘free-from’ lifestyles
“I’m not a dietician or a qualified chef, but I do care passionately about what goes into our food. I don’t think our meals need gluten, wheat or dairy to taste delicious – that’s why you’ll never find them in any of our recipes.”
The research also revealed that Londoners are the ones that suffer from allergies or food intolerances the most, with almost 40 per cent leading a ‘free-from’ lifestyle.
The food allergy or intolerance that the UK suffers from most is lactose, followed by dairy, gluten and wheat.
Kirsty’s £2m investment in new ‘free-from’ factory
“Last year, one in every 30 households bought a Kirsty’s product, which is incredible,” the firm’s founder remarked. “In 2021, we not only want customers to continue to trust our products, but we also want to encourage them to trial products from more than one of our ever-expanding categories.”
Throughout this year, customers can expect to see several new products developed by Kirsty’s on the shelves. This was made possible after the firm recently invested £2 million in a new factory that is set to help the brand focus on new product development and achieve a target of doubling the size of the business within three years.