According to new data from Nielsen, over half of Irish consumers now avoid certain ingredients in what they eat and drink due to dietary or health and wellness concerns. One in four households also suffers from food allergies or intolerances.
Fifty-two percent 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, mirroring a 19% rise in the UK. Matt Clark, Nielsen’s commercial director in Ireland, notes, “It’s one of the fastest growing categories and, consequently, supermarkets are extending ranges. 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."
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. 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%).
Clark points 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.”
He advocated manufacturers and retailers aid consumers in changing their diets, which could boost the bottom line as well as build shopper loyalty.
© 2016 - Checkout Magazine by Donncha Mac Cóil