Meeting the Needs of Shoppers with Food Allergies

Meeting the Needs of Shoppers with Food Allergies

February 27, 2019
TrendsRetail Industry Insights

Food allergies have become pervasive in our culture. It was only 30 years ago that food allergies affected 0.75% of Americans and now nearly 5% of the population lives with them on a daily basis. In the United States alone, 76 million free-from shoppers are fueling a rapidly expanding market for allergy-friendly and clean label products.¹ Food allergies have reached epidemic proportions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 1 in 13 children now diagnosed with them.² A study published in January 2019 in JAMA Network Open found that 10.8% of U.S. adults have a food allergy and about half developed a new food allergy as an adult. 

Anatomy of a Food Allergy Shopper

Food allergy shoppers are valuable retail customers. Industry research indicates that Free-from shoppers spend an average of $102 per cart load compared to $46 for regular shoppers, a 122% increase in spend per shopping trip! They are in the top 15% in terms of spending, they spend more time in stores, and they make more frequent visits than all other heavy shoppers do.

Free-from shoppers are also digitally savvy, frequently doing their own research online including time spent watching videos, looking for recipes, providing product reviews, and sharing information that can support trial and drive traffic in-store.

3 Ways to Support the Food Allergy Shopper

  1. Expand shelf space for allergy-friendly items
  2. Put the spotlight on allergy-friendly products
  3. Provide shoppers with resources such as those created by Enjoy Life Foods 

Retail Opportunity 

As the consumer base continues to prove that individuals are willing to spend more if a product tastes good and is safe for them to eat, there’s additional opportunity to expand placements. End caps, displays throughout the store, and digital promotions are all effective ways to increase visibility where consumers are shopping. When retailers implement an extensive free-from set, it’s a win-win for both shoppers and retailers. Consumers want easily-accessible free-from products and retailers become the destination for consumers needing these products.

Enjoy Life Foods is the leading brand in the Free-From category, featuring a robust portfolio of Certified Gluten Free and Non-GMO Project Verified products that are free-from 14 common allergens – wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, casein, soy, egg, sesame, sulfites, lupin, mustard, fish, shellfish, and crustaceans.


  1. New Hope Network, “Gluten-free forecast: what’s next?” May 6, 2014
  2. Pediatrics, “The Prevalence, Severity, and Distribution of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States,” June 2011