Among my family and friends, there are several multiple allergy sufferers. Most of them are children. A person with multiple allergies would be allergic to many things, often the food basics- eggs, nuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish. Here are some stats:
Food allergies are on the rise in developed nations, but scientists aren’t sure exactly why this is happening. Between 1997 and 2011, food allergies in children increased by around 50%. Eight foods account for around 90% of all reactions, including wheat, milk, shellfish and peanuts.
UK specific stats here:
An estimated 10 million adults suffer from more than one allergy 50% of children and young people have one or more allergy within the first 18 years of life
My little nephew has multiple allergies (eggs, soy, dairy, nuts). For his third birthday, I wanted to get him a dessert that he could eat. I am not the best cook, so I tried shops like Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods, Waitrose first. I could not find any products that addressed multiple allergies and had no traces of allergens or guaranteed controlled production environment.
I remembered about a colleague whose daughter is a multiple allergy sufferer and that as a result she has to make all her meals from scratch- shops have nothing to offer and takeaways are deadly.
For the next couple of weeks, I immersed myself into blogs of people or parents of children with multiple allergies, as well as vegan blogs. Lots of ideas, however ingredients were not widely available and I was running out of time. In the process I discovered a US brand called Enjoy Life which develops food products for people with multiple allergies. I shelled out to get their chocolate (on Amazon) – no dairy, no soy, no nut traces, made in controlled environment. But when my dessert was ready, I realised that the coconut oil I was using was not safe- controlled environment was not guaranteed. I went online and ordered an assortment of Enjoy Life products instead, to give as a gift.
Unfortunately at the prices I paid for the US import, I won’t be able to afford to buy their products regularly. Which made me think- why don’t we have a similar food brand in the UK?
The segment looks definitely sizeable. It does not include people with allergies only, but also those with food intolerances and healthy eaters. Conservative rough estimates allow to evaluate its size as at least 17m people, or 27% of the population = 10m multiple allergy sufferers + 6m people with food intolerances + 1m healthy eaters, eg vegetarians and vegans.
* I did not include children who are multiple allergy sufferers which is a segment on its own (50% of all UK children). I assumed 10% of population for food intolerances, even though actual numbers are higher (eg 15% for lactose). I based healthy eaters number on these stats.
A hint at the volume of the market here:
Last year £238m was spent in the UK on “free-from” food including ready meals, bakery goods, snacks and meat products. Much of this increase reflects a “lifestyle option for many people”. There’s a wider band of consumers that really believe that free-from foods offer a healthier lifestyle – that cutting wheat or dairy out of their diet may simply be better for them.
All of this indicates an emerging market, which needs are not currently met. Let’s hope a British equivalent of the Enjoy Life brand soon emerges and finding desert or food gifts for the loved ones, who happen to be multiple allergy sufferers, becomes as easy as with the regular food brands.