Leading bakery solution, Délifrance, today released its latest insight report aimed at helping food operators navigate the challenges of allergen legislation. More than 2 million UK consumers have a diagnosed food allergy and, according to experts, the UK is experiencing a ‘second wave’ of allergic disease[1]. To learn more about food hypersensitive (FHS) consumers and how food operators are adapting to their needs and new legislation, Délifrance commissioned a UK-wide survey – speaking to consumers who either have a food allergy, or have a child with one.

Findings revealed that three quarters of consumers with food allergies enjoy bread, 74% indulge in sweet treats like brownies or cakes, and 70% eat pastries like croissants and pain au chocolate. Another 66% like savoury treats such as cheese twists. Despite this, many don’t feel their needs are being met by food operators, and more than half (52%) won’t buy anything or will go elsewhere if they can’t find the bakery product they want.

The top five places where FHS consumers buy baked goods are supermarkets, bakeries, coffee shops and cafes, and restaurants. Délifrance gathered consumer insight on FHS consumer experiences buying products at each of these, in addition to independent retailers, pubs, bars and hotels.

The findings highlight key areas for each of these outlets to address. Not simply to reassure and better serve this fast-growing group of consumers, but also to comply with new legislation introduced by Natasha’s Law. These are outlined in the report, along with insight and advice on adapting these areas from Délifrance and report partners, Food Allergy Aware.

Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director at Délifrance, said: “It’s clear these consumers love their baked goods, representing a big opportunity for food operators. They just need to be reassured that their products are produced and kept separate from those containing allergens. Unsurprisingly, they don’t want to compromise on taste and choice either.

At Délifrance, we’ve been eliminating or reducing allergens across our range for years. We’re also continually developing delicious new baked products that meet the needs of different diets – whether they’re allergen-free, vegan or organic. It’s a huge job, but we believe essential to keep the growing numbers of FHS consumers safe and happy.

We realise this represents a big challenge for some food operators, but we’re convinced that it’s good business as well as being vital for public health and wellbeing. We’ve shared some of our processes and approaches in the report, in the hope that they’ll inspire food operators to adapt, giving them the chance to attract rather than alienate what can often be a highly loyal group of consumers.”

Jacqui McPeake, consultant for Food Allergy Aware says, “There’s a huge community of people with allergies on social media – on Instagram, Twitter etc – and they all talk to each other. If an FHS consumer trusts a food operator and enjoys the food, they’ll become a regular customer, tell their friends and share their experiences on social media using hashtags like #allergyapplause.   

It’s worth remembering that FHS consumers are vocal on social media if they have a bad experience too. And with allergies on the rise, this could affect businesses negatively in the long-run.”

To learn more about FHS consumers, key areas food operators should be addressing, and how best to adapt these to meet market needs, download the Delifrance report Prove It: Adapting bakery to meet the needs of food hypersensitive consumers here.

[1] NARF

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