Non-allergic food products are increasingly filling food market, making wide choice of different food types available for every one suffering from various health complications.
About 12 million US residents suffer from various food allergies and close to 2 million residents suffer from celiac disease. In these people the immune system attacks aggressively itself when they take allergic food or gluten protein. The number of people with food allergies is on the rise. The number of people with peanut allergy has already doubled during the past ten years. Between 150 to 200 people die each year because of food related allergies.
It is not yet clear why food allergies are rising so rapidly. Several researches are suggesting the following hypothesis: allergies are occurring because of reduced number of germs in daily life of kids, because of environmental pollution, and the way some food products are being produced. However, none of these points are 100% confirmed to be the cause of allergies. Although, all of the points that were mentioned above are true, meaning that probably allergies come because of the combination of these issues.
The number of people with allergies are driving the demand for non-allergic food. This year there the production of non-allergic food will reach to $3.9 billion, gluten-free food is expected to take $1.3 billion by 2010 compared to $700 million in 2006.
In 2006 government required all food manufacturers to have all ingredients clearly mentioned on food products containing milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts. Since then, food companies had to be even more attentive to the needs of consumers with allergies. For example, Girl Scouts now sells milk-free cookies, Anheuser-Busch sells gluten-free beer, and Kellogg’s has Pop-Tarts nut-free factories.
Gluten is not yet being actively taken out from food, but some major companies, such as General Mills and Stonyfield Farm, are already going gluten-free. Kellogg’s and Campbell Soup now produce food for those with various allergies and celiac.
Changing the manufacturing process for already established companies is harder than for the newer companies that start their production with inclusiong of allergy-free food. These new food producers don’t need to change manufacturing process and facilities, but can build new facilities and design new processes, which are much easier to do than redesigning. This tells us that the going allergy-free or gluten-free proves to be more difficult for the major companies and requires more efforts on their part. However, making the change will show how serious these major food producers are serious toward the health needs of their customers.
According to National Association for the Specialty Food Trade statistics, 300 out of 2800 its members already offer 7000 allergy-free products, but 5 years ago only 50 members did so. There are also several internet stores offering non-allergic food, such as Heather and Brian Selwa and Steve Rubinstein. These figures show the level of significance for companies to go allergy-free.
A spokesman for Mintel reported that non-allergic food market is increasing even more rapidly than the demand does. People mostly avoid eating certain types of food even if they don’t suffer from allergy. About 28% of people think they have allergy, but they really don’t. However, all these market changes make people feel comfortable, because they can go to a general food shop and buy whatever they want to, and whatever they think is safe for their health.