Over half of Irish people eating specialised diets
One in four households suffers from food allergies or intolerances, according to new Nielsen data. In fact, the analyst predicts the free from market in the UK will be the same size as today's mineral water market within two years.
23 November 2016
Due to dietary or health and wellness concerns, over half of Irish consumers now avoid certain ingredients in what they eat and drink, according to new data from Nielsen.
In fact, 52% eat a diet that excludes or limits consumption of some foods or ingredients. Antibiotics/hormones are the most common ingredients avoided (64%) followed by artificial additives, such as flavours and preservatives (62%) and sugar sweeteners (59%). Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and genetically-modified organisms also feature in the five most avoided.
Over one in four (27%) households contains someone who suffers from food allergies or intolerances, although this is much lower than the global average (36%). The most common ingredients avoided in Ireland for these reasons are eggs and lactose/diary (both 47%), poultry (30%), gluten (28%) and grains (25%).
Indeed, sales of “free from” products rose 15% in Ireland last year which Matt Clark, Nielsen’s commercial director in Ireland points out mirrors what’s happened in the UK this year which has seen a 19% rise to £754m annually*.
“It’s one of the fastest growing categories and, consequently, supermarkets are extending ranges,” Clark said. “If this growth rate continues, ‘free from’ would be a £1 billion market in the UK alone within two years – the same size as today’s mineral water market.”
‘Back to basics’ mindset
Clark goes on to point out four “macro-trends” that are driving people to pay more attention to what they consume: “People are adopting a more back-to-basics mind-set, focusing on simple ingredients and fewer processed foods; they’re also taking a more active role in their own health care, which includes better nutrition, itself a reflection of the rising trend in chronic-disease rates. Finally, consumers are increasingly educated due to the internet providing access to more health information than could ever have been dreamed of in the past.”
Relating to the rise in disease and illness rates, a third of Irish people say their dietary choice is specifically due to helping prevent conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension. The World Health Organisation says chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are expected to account for 73% of deaths globally by 2020, up from about 60% in 2001.
What can retailers and manufacturers do?
Nearly half of people with specialised diets or family members with food intolerances say product offerings don’t fully meet their dietary needs. All-natural (51%) and low/no sugar (41%) products top the list that consumers wish there were more of on shelves, followed by no artificial flavours/colours (39%), organic and low/no salt products (both 36%).
“Consumers need help from manufacturers and retailers when it comes to changing diets to address various concerns, particularly as some are prioritising ingredients over brands,” said Clark. “It’s a win-win for both groups as it provides the industry with a significant opportunity to drive new and alternative product portfolios that people want to buy for the long-term – boosting the bottom line and building a loyal shopper base.”
*(Source: Nielsen Scantrack 52 weeks ending 13 August 2016)