The Rapid Growth of the ‘Free From’ Market

The free from market has seen exponential growth in the last few years as more and more people move towards a healthier lifestyle, long gone are the days of fad diets, we’ve replaced those horrendous meal replacement shakes with quick, easy and simple recipes. Social media influencers such as Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach have been a major contributor to the growth of the healthy lifestyle industry.
Research from Mintel in 2016 revealed that sales of free-from foods are forecast to have grown by 13% to reach £531 million in 2016, up from an estimated £470 million in 2015.
Mintel research shows that 12% of new food products launched in the UK in 2015 carried a gluten-free claim, up from 7% in 2011. This percentage is expected to rise again for 2016.
The free from foods market is a rapidly expanding category due to the increase in people taking up a ‘free-from lifestyle’. Eating free from food has become a much more widely recognised lifestyle choice in the last few years, when previously Free-From products were for a much more specific, allergy based audience.

A 2016 Mintel report stated that as free-from continues to flourish, more Brits are avoiding certain ingredients due to their health credentials, rather than for medical reasons.
One in four Brits (27%) said they or someone else in their household avoids certain ingredients as part of a general healthy lifestyle, compared to one in five (19%) who reported avoidance due to an allergy or intolerance. In particular, 8% of Brits report avoidance of gluten as part of a healthy lifestyle, compared to 5% who report avoidance due to an allergy or intolerance.
Furthermore, the top reason free-from users name for eating free-from foods is because it makes them feel better, for example healthier, with two in five (39%) giving this reason, whilst one fifth (19%) say they eat these products because they are trying to lose weight.

Now, why is this data so important to me as an entrepreneur?

Well, this information is key when launching new products, by ensuring I know the trends in the market and whether there are any gaps that a ripe to fill with new exciting products. Having this information puts me in a much better position and provides me with the knowledge to know where my product will fit and what the unique selling points would be against my competitors.
Remember, when launching any type of product you need to know where your product will fit in the market, whether your sector is growing or whether it is too crowded.
I recommend looking at trade books and catalogues to see where your product would fit, looking at sales data and predictions for your sector, The British Library is an amazing place to go for this kind of information and is also a great resource and remember to do some digging on online and on social media, have a look at what others in the market are doing and don’t forget a simple Google search can bring you a wealth of information in seconds!

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