Food allergies affect 1 in 4 consumers, according to FARE

3 Jul 2020

New research from FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) found that 85 million Americans, or 1 in 4 people, avoid purchasing products with the top 9 allergens due to either personal allergies or allergies suffers that live in the same household.

The price tag associated with avoiding products that can have health consequences and subsequently relying on specialty, allergen-free items rings up at $19 billion annually. The top 9 allergens in the United States are milk, wheat, sesame, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and sesame.

Food allergies affect 1 in 4 consumers, according to FARE

"For all 85 million Americans this can be expensive, but especially for lower-income families with food allergies, allergen avoidance can be prohibitive and crippling," said Lisa Gable, chief executive officer of FARE. Research from the allergy firm noted that those with food allergies pay 5% more per month than the average consumer.

While this additional expense can be a burden for some households, it also represents an opportunity for major manufacturers looking to capture more consumers by offering cost-friendly allergy-free solutions. According to FARE’s research, 53% of Americans find the current allergy labeling problematic and interfere with their daily lives; 71% spend three to five minutes reading each label for items they purchase.

Already, many companies have begun to sell allergy-free foods, albeit inadvertently in some cases. The free-from movement that was spurred by consumer interest in dairy-free and gluten-free products has continued to drive innovation for Big Food. Its rapid growth has also served to bring these allergy-foods into the mainstream. The free-from food market is anticipated to grow 4.84% through 2023, according to Mordor Intelligence.

Still, there remains the risk of cross-contamination in processing facilities, something that can pose an issue even for products labeled as allergy-free. To help families that are struggling to find foods that are safe to eat, FARE is proposing a universal label that indicates the presence, even unintentionally, of an allergen.

FARE reported that 32 million Americans are currently living with a potentially life-threatening food allergy. This is up from its 2013 estimate of 15 million people in the U.S. living with a food allergy which indicates that the prevalence of allergies is on the rise. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed this data with a report that noted the prevalence of food allergies in children jumped 50% between 1997 and 2011. FARE reported that the number of food allergy consumers has grown a total of 4% over the past 20 years. Manufacturers that cater to these consumers are sure to win not only sales but brand loyalty.

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