For many years, dairy-free, wheat-free, and gluten-free foods were considered specialty items, and weren’t found on many grocery stores’ shelves. The ‘free from’ market was considered a tiny, niche market, mainly found only in health food shops. Today, however, the market is booming, according to theDaily Mail. With rising rates of food allergies and intolerances has come the rising popularity of ‘free-from’ foods. In Britain, the ‘free from’ food market has an estimated worth of £238 billion ($378 billion USD) per year.
It is believed that food allergy rates have increased substantially over the last decade. Retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel believe that the ‘free from’ food market has grown by 15 percent over the past year alone.
Spokesman Paul Duszynski of the Tesco supermarket chain commented that the market for allergen-friendly foods was nearly non-existent just a decade ago. He said “Just 10 years ago if you suffered from a food allergy you would have to go out of your way to specialist health shops in order to find dairy, wheat or gluten free foods. There weren’t many from which to choose, and they often tasted quite bland.” Times have changed, though. Duszynski explained, “People who used to suffer the symptoms of intolerance or allergy in silence can now easily find high quality wheat, gluten and dairy free products when they do their weekly shop.”
Allergy UK’s Deputy Chief Executive, Lindsey McManus, agreed, saying: “We are seeing an increased choice and a wider variety of foods in store specifically for those with food allergies and intolerances.”