Lite stuff hits big time – Healthy eating consumers bring Low, No and Free From foods into mainstream

Despite tabloid headlines screaming about obesity, much of Britain’s population are becoming healthier and more discerning in their lifestyle choices. Hence the popular perception of “The Lite Stuff” as in products with low, no or reduced contents of particular ingredients has moved from something for people with medical conditions to an option that contributes to improved wellbeing for everyone.

bill-new-greyTwo decades ago low, no and free from products were either confined to health food shops or if the supermarkets stocked them, most of the time they placed them away from the main fixture for their category and it was a mission to find them. The price of a gluten free loaf was around three times one made with ordinary flour.

Since then as retail distribution has improved, the prices have come down.

The core of the “Lite Stuff” consumer base remains products that are allergy free. Lactose, gluten and nuts are three of the main food types concerned and the effects of intolerance to these substances can be severe, in extreme cases including anaphylactic shock.

Given allergic people’s heightened sensitivity to these substances, manufacturers of products containing even the smallest amount have been advising caution on their labelling for a number of years and low, no and free from have become attractive product claims for marketers dreaming up new products.

As awareness and understanding of food allergies grows, the ‘healthier eating’ population we mentioned earlier is catching on to the idea that even if you’re fortunate enough not to be allergic to a particular substance used in food production, you can still be sensitive to it. From there, consumers of all ages who want to be healthy are becoming more aware of the benefits of cutting down on particular ingredients.

A growing list of innovative manufacturers is responding to this by developing products that meet the needs of both groups. To pick out a few, as featured in this issue most of Grace Foods’ Encona Sauces range is gluten free, as are Mrs Crimble’s and Doves Farm’s products. Swiss confectionery brand Ricola has made sugar free sweets something to be appreciated. Goats milk supplier St Helen’s Farm is giving lactose intolerant people a lower lactose alternative to cow’s milk. All these products are also attractive to mainstream palates.

As indicated by the growing popularity of diet regimes like the 5:2 and the 8-week blood sugar diet, consumers are looking to improve their food intake all the time, which will lead to greater interest and demand for the Lite Stuff