Young and Female Shoppers Drive Rapid Free From Growth in Convenience Stores

The year of 2016 saw the rise of ‘Free From’ products within grocery; dairy-free milk alternatives sales jumped, coconut based ‘Free From’ NPD emerged and gluten free beer sales soared in an otherwise relatively slow beer sector. It is a trend that is already continuing into 2017 with AF Blakemore launching their own ‘Free From’ range. This is unsurprising given Nielsen’s prediction that the ‘Free From’ market will be worth £1bn by 2018 if current growth rates continue.

With 16% of UK consumers identifying as having a food intolerance, as well as ample resources now being available for more shoppers to self-diagnose themselves, ‘Free From’ products need to be considered as part of a core range in convenience outlets. It will be critical to know which intolerances are most prevalent amongst shoppers. For example, one in ten shoppers are dairy intolerant, therefore stocking popular dairy-free milk alternatives such as soya and nut milks is a necessity.  

The number of shoppers who identify as having a food intolerance is much higher within younger audiences, with three in ten 18-34 year olds stating they have a food intolerance. This is reflected in the number of shoppers purchasing ‘Free From’ products in store, with younger shoppers much more likely to do so.

Females are also significantly more likely to purchase, with one quarter saying they do. Female shoppers tend to spend longer in store and drive up basket value, and hence both suppliers and retailers can benefit from attracting this shopper into store by providing a credible ‘Free From’ range.

This report delves deeper into all these topics and more, providing quality insights to help both suppliers and retailers form their very important ‘Free From’ convenience strategy.