What is in this article?:
- Food allergy study may boost allergen-free food sales
- Allergen-free food companies capitalize on research
- Convincing retailers to stock allergy-free foods
A recent study found that 1 in 12 children have a food allergy, twice as many as previously thought. This is bad news for parents and kids, but the growth in food allergies is creating opportunities for manufacturers of allergen-free foods.
Allergen-free food companies have known for years that the key to providing solutions on retail shelves for allergy-prone children lies in awareness of the problem. A new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics may help their cause even more. The study reveals that 1 in 12 children have a food allergy, twice as high as previously thought.
The study surveyed 40,000 parents of children younger than 18 and found that 6 million kids in the U.S. suffer from a food allergy. That's nearly 8 percent of kids, while 40 percent of those had suffered from a severe allergic reaction. Peanuts were found to be the most common allergen, followed by milk and shellfish.
"My previous research showed probably no more than 3 percent of children are allergic to foods," said Eugene Wang, creator of Sophie's Kitchen, which offers allergen-free, vegan seafood made from the conjac root. "Now we're getting a lot more insight into how bad this really is."
Wang started the company when he realized his daughter, Sophie—the company's namesake—was severely allergic to shellfish. Being intolerant to seafood, himself, Wang reasoned that the allergy was either genetic or that ocean pollutants were making seafood intolerable for him and his daughter. With so many pollutants in our environment and ocean, Wang said "you never know what's out there making you feel allergic."
Currently, there is no other seafood analog in the market like Sophie's Kitchen products, which include shrimp, calamari and fish fillets, among others. This new study shows that the business opportunity is huge, said Wang. "A journal article like this is like a gold mine for us, marketing wise," echoed Susan Carskadon, who handles marketing and public relations for Sophie's. "The onus is on Sophie's Kitchen and on many other innovative companies to actually be the educators."