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.
Convincing retailers to stock allergy-free foods
As public awareness of allergies increases, so does the demand for local natural health and grocery stores to stock solutions.
"We get calls all the time from consumers asking 'Where can I get your product?'" said Dena Zigun, brand manager for Ian's Natural Foods, a Lawrence, Mass.-based allergen-free children's food company with breakfast, entrees, snacks and fries. "They're not finding it in as many local stores as they like." Zigun said the company plans to include this new study in retailer presentations to help them understand the market for allergen-free foods.
The second biggest impact of the study, said Zigun, is greater awareness of allergen-free foods with secondary caregivers, such as the mom of a child's best friend or a babysitter. Ian's packages its foods with a big red banner across the top that states what the food is free from to make it easy for shoppers. This is also fodder for convincing retailers to stock allergen-free, because the need for these foods goes beyond those who have allergies.
Are you allergic to your supplement?
But allergies aren't solely caused by what's in our food—even nutritional supplements, which parents may give children to supplement their diets, could pose problems.
"We need to feed our body nutrients that are targeted and effective and are not delivered with binders, anti-caking agents and stabilizers," said Myra Michelle Eby, founder of BoulderCeuticals, a whole food, organic nutritional supplements company in Boulder, Colo. "It's unbelievable what's on the shelves of a health foods' store," she said, citing sodium benzoate and artificial colors, which research has linked to hyperactivity in kids.
While this ingredient isn't classified as a traditional food allergy, perhaps it should be. Fillers and preservatives are food additives that could create an adverse effect in a child's health, which is the essence of a food allergy.
All the food manufacturers NewHope360 talked to were optimistic about how this study could impact sales. "It's hard to isolate the effect of a particular study or news piece," said Zigun, "But we've been experiencing double-digit growth rates over the last several years," indicating that allergen-free foods are necessary now more than ever.