According to experts, the UK is experiencing a ‘second wave’ of allergic disease, with around 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children today suffering a food allergy. As a result, Natasha’s Law was introduced in 2021, requiring food outlets to provide clear allergen labelling on pre-packed foods.
However, McPeake said allergies are getting worse, and more children are being diagnosed with multiple and severe allergies. Some of these are outside of the top 14, and range from kiwi fruit and tomatoes to peppers, pea protein and chickpeas.
The love of bakery
Délifrance’s report revealed three quarters of UK consumers with food allergies enjoy bread; 74% indulge in sweet treats like brownies or cakes; and 70% eat pastries like croissants and pain au chocolat. Another 66% like savoury treats such as cheese twists. This shows that there’s strong demand for baked goods from food hypersensitive consumers.
This all points to the fact that free from foods are here to stay. In fact, stripping back ingredients and careful labelling will be essential for food operators to stay competitive.
Délifrance – a manufacturer that produces French-style bakery snacks for operators in over 100 countries, including the UK – has been eliminating or reducing allergens across its range for years to help customers meet evolving market needs. It also continually develops other treats to meet the needs of an ever-increasing array of dietary lifestyles, be they allergen-free, vegan or organic.
The company’s 2021 research showed the top five outlets where food hypersensitive consumers buy baked goods are supermarkets, bakeries, coffee shops and cafes, and restaurants, so these appear to be doing the best job attracting the consumers at the moment. Despite this, around 3 in 10 of consumers said they would like more choice of baked goods for all of these outlets, indicating there is still untapped demand in this specialist market.
Meeting the challenge
It’s not always easy to simply eliminate or decrease allergens, as some ingredients are critical, such as milk for binding, or an egg wash to increase appeal. Délifrance, however, has removed milk powder from all of its classic bread lines, without compromising on flavour.
It’s a delicate balance creating bakery that tastes delicious and has the right texture, while at the same time taking out key ingredients.
The company’s vegan croissant, for example, took time and skill for its bakers to replicate the taste and texture of classic butter croissants using alternative fats like shea butter and retaining traditional baking methods. Because it has a higher melting point than butter, Délifrance claims it can give your mouth a ‘coating feeling’.
“Our bakers put in a great deal of time and energy to pinpoint the optimal mix of vegetable fat, which kept the melting point closest to real butter. The resulting vegan croissants - part of our Feel Good Range – are a delicious milk and egg-free alternative for consumers.”