Allergy Free Snacking & Natasha's Law

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what is in their foods. This combined with a rise in food allergies, intolerances, and the growth of following a vegan diet, the free-from area is finally evolving. Arriving with Epicurium soon, Creative Nature sits perfectly within both these areas and can proudly state they've created a food that is safe to eat for 98% of the UK population. Julianne Ponan, CEO of Creative Nature takes you through the allergy-free snack category, opportunities which exist and why Retailers must act now.

Natasha's Law & the Importance of Food Labelling

The free-from market is growing due to food ingredients awareness as sadly 1 in 12 children now have a food allergy, this is on average 2-3 in every classroom! In the UK alone the latest NHS Digital figures revealed that hospital admissions for anaphylactic shock in adults aged 19 and over have increased 27% since last year. On top of this 72% increase in children anaphylaxis hospitalisations in the last 5 years. Around 11-26 million members of the European population are estimated to suffer from food allergies. If this prevalence is projected onto the world's population of 7 billion, it translates into 240-550 million potential food-allergic people; a huge global health burden.

The introduction this month of a new food safety law - known as "Natasha's Law" - requires full ingredient and allergen labelling on all food made on premises and pre-packed for direct sale.

Disturbingly we're seeing a rise in products across the market making Vegan on-pack claims, yet on the back of the pack flagging a 'may contain' warning for Milk or Eggs. If you have an allergy or intolerance even the smallest trace amount of the trigger food can cause a reaction. If a product states Vegan you would assume everything is tested and guaranteed to be free of anything not plant-based however it's not and this poses a risk. Allergies aren't going anywhere which is why we need a change and its why Creative Nature caters to all the Top 14 allergens making our products delicious without doubt and safe to eat for 98% of the UK population. The Top 14 Free status on all our products is unique in the market.

Why Creative Nature Snacks?

Our brand offers safe, delicious free-from snacks with options for consumers who often feel neglected, overlooked, and for whom snacks can be a 'chore' as there is very little trust around ambient products. We make 'free-from an asset and embrace those consumers.

All our products are delicious without doubt, while many free-from snacks are frankly dull and can taste very bland. We celebrate free from and we ensure our products are free from all top 14 allergens so that consumers can buy with confidence. Many products in this sector are free from this – but not that – and consumers still have to scrutinize the labels very carefully to stay safe. We also have the first to market 'Gnawbles Product Hazelnot' which we have been told tastes like a Nutella Malteser but without the nuts! Magic right?

Opportunities by Embracing Free-From Varieties

I think shoppers will continue to pay close attention to labelling  – consumers will make smarter choices and will stick with brands they can trust even if they are shopping from home more frequently. This will be the same, in our view, for those who visit independent retailers or an outlet like cafes. Offering a range of products will give consumers confidence and variety – so much of shopping in the future will need to offer quality alongside an experience. I think opportunities lie in selling in a mix of ways and embracing that mix, e.g., Selling through retail outlets, selling through online retail outlets, and selling directly online. I think it's healthier for brands – particularly challenger brands – to sell in a range of ways for customers who will decide how they want to buy.

My advice is to ask your audience – ask the people who already know you what they like about your brand, what could improve. Also, ask them how they buy – what is their buying process? Ask on all of your platforms where you have audiences and run the data. Then test with investment in different areas to see which works. Also, flex it over time. Variety is the spice of life in sales as anything else. Research shows that activity across multiple platforms brings greater return on investment.

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