2021
9
UK Free-from Foods Market Report 2021
2021-03-16T03:02:07+00:00
OX989910
2195
135558
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Report
en_GB
“There is a pressing need for free-from products to justify their prices and improve their value for money image amid more cautious spending habits. In the longer term, the pandemic’s…

UK Free-from Foods Market Report 2021

£ 2,195 (Excl.Tax)

Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the UK Free-From Foods Market, including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Following a slowdown in 2019, sales growth in the free-from foods market accelerated again in 2020, with value sales rising by 16.9% year on year to break through the £1 billion ceiling. The closing of the foodservice industry, and the stock shortages from panic-buying forced people into changing their spending habits and buying alternatives to their usual meals. Sales in the specific free-from market grew to £652 million in 2020, with dairy-free and lactose-free sales reaching £455 million.

There has also been an overall shift towards eco-friendly and dairy-free food, with the media’s focus on global warming and documentaries such as David Attenborough’s A Life On Our Planet advocating for more sustainable eating habits. Free-from brands may use this to their advantage, changing their marketing to focus on environmental health, as well as personal health.

However, free-from and dairy-free brands are often seen as more premium and expensive, potentially causing a decrease in sales as people tighten their wallets post-lockdown. To retain customers, brands may have to change marketing to seem more affordable and value for money, especially towards lower-income households.

Read on to find out more or take a look at all of our UK Food and UK Drink market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the free-from foods market.
  • The outlook for the market in the re-emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery up to 2025.
  • The latest new product development (NPD) trends.
  • Consumers’ habits around food/ingredients avoidance and buying free-from products.
  • Consumer behaviour surrounding and attitudes towards free-from food/drink.
  • The qualities consumers associate with different types of free-from products.

Covered in this report

Brands: Alpro, Oatly, Arla (Lactofree), Dr Achar, Nairns, Own-Label, Danone (Activia, Actimel), Galaxy, Mars, Violife, Plenish.

Products: Free-from foods, Gluten-free, Wheat-free, Dairy-free/lactose-free, Vegan food, Plant-based food.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Emma Clifford, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

There is a pressing need for free-from products to justify their prices and improve their value for money image amid more cautious spending habits. In the longer term, the pandemic’s acceleration of sustainability and health trends will support the market’s continued growth. However, brands will have to go the extra mile and prove their worth on both these fronts to stand out.

Emma Clifford
Associate Director – Food and Drink Research

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • COVID-19: Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • Products covered in this Report
  2. Executive Summary

    • Impact of COVID-19 on free-from foods
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on free-from foods, prepared on 24 February 2021
    • The market
    • COVID-19 added more fuel to the market’s growth
    • Growth to slow in 2021 before regaining momentum
      • Figure 2: UK retail value sales of free-from food and drink, 2015-25 (prepared on 24 February 2021)
    • The dairy-free market has been the growth engine
    • Awareness of the environmental benefits of eating more plants grows
    • Squeezed spending power will hinder the market
    • Prices rises stemming from Brexit would be problematic
    • Companies and brands
    • Alpro’s lead in sales weakens; a phenomenal performance from Oatly
      • Figure 3: Leading brands’ value sales in the UK free-from market, 2018/19-2020/21
    • Own-label grows share of free-from NPD activity in 2020; Asda sets itself apart
    • Mainstream brands continue to explore free-from
    • 11% fall in adspend on free-from food in 2020
    • The consumer
    • Food/ingredient avoidance in the household reported by half of adults
      • Figure 4: Overall avoidance of foods/ingredients in the household, by reason, October 2020
    • Four in ten adults use/buy free-from food/drink
      • Figure 5: Overall buying and usage of free-from food and drink, October 2020
    • Cost is critical; sustainability factors hold sway
      • Figure 6: Enticements to buy a free-from food/drink product, by buying/usage of free-from food/drink, October 2020
    • Free-from ranges can be an important differentiator; a need to assuage concerns around impact of Brexit
      • Figure 7: Behaviours relating to free-from food/drink, October 2020
    • Nutritional credentials are key; blends of cow’s milks and plant milk garner appeal
      • Figure 8: Attitudes towards free-from food and drink, October 2020
    • ‘Plant-based’ seen in a more positive light than ‘vegan’
      • Figure 9: Qualities associated with selected categories of free-from food/drink, October 2020
      • Figure 10: Further qualities associated with selected categories of free-from food/drink, October 2020
  3. Issues and Insights

    • A need to go the extra mile on sustainability to stand out amid the eco movement accelerated by COVID-19
    • ‘Flexitarian’ dairy products can foster a strong ‘best of both worlds’ positioning
    • A need to address poor value for money connotations
  4. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • COVID-19 added more fuel to the market’s growth
    • Growth to slow in 2021 before regaining momentum
    • The dairy-free market has been the growth engine
    • Awareness of the environmental benefits of eating more plants grows
    • Squeezed spending power will hinder the market
    • Prices rises stemming from Brexit would be problematic
  5. Market Size and Forecast

    • Impact of COVID-19 on free-from foods
      • Figure 11: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on free-from foods, prepared on 24 February 2021
    • The market’s growth slowed down in 2019
    • COVID-19 added more fuel to the market’s growth
      • Figure 12: UK retail value sales of free-from food and drink, 2015-25 (prepared on
    • Growth to slow in 2021 before regaining momentum
      • Figure 13: UK retail value sales of free-from food and drink, 2015-25 (prepared on
    • Market drivers and assumptions
      • Figure 14: Key drivers affecting Mintel’s market forecast, 2015-25 (prepared on 24 February 2021)
    • Learnings from the last recession
      • Figure 15: Rate of annual growth in value sales of free-from food, 2007-12
    • Forecast methodology
  6. Market Segmentation

    • The dairy-free market has been the growth engine
      • Figure 16: UK retail value sales of free-from food and drink, by segment, 2017-20
  7. Market Drivers

    • Impact of the wave of early 2021 lockdowns
    • Awareness of the environmental benefits of eating more plants grows
    • The sustainability of certain plant-based ingredients is also under scrutiny
    • Concerns around soya’s links to deforestation
    • Almonds’ water footprint prompts response from brands
    • Squeezed spending power will hinder the market
    • Engaging with the older generation to become more important
    • Prices rises stemming from Brexit would be problematic
  8. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Alpro’s lead in sales weakens; a phenomenal performance from Oatly
    • Own-label grows share of free-from NPD activity in 2020; Asda sets itself apart
    • A rise in fortification in dairy alternatives
    • Mainstream brands continue to explore free-from
    • 11% fall in adspend on free-from food
  9. Market Share

    • Alpro’s lead in sales weakens
    • A phenomenal performance from Oatly
      • Figure 17: Leading brands’ sales and shares in the UK free-from market, by value, 2018/19-2020/21
    • Sales of Violife double over the last two years
    • Own-label and other brands grow their share
  10. Launch Activity and Innovation

    • Free-from claims in food launches slip in 2020
      • Figure 18: Share of food* product launches with free-from claims, by claim, 2016-20
    • Free-from claims among seasonal food launches rise in 2020
    • Own-label grows share of free-from NPD activity in 2020
    • Asda drops prices of its Free From range, and launches vegan ambient aisle
    • M&S and Morrisons launch gluten-free delivery boxes
    • Gluten-free
    • Bread attracts more NPD in 2020
    • Warburtons adds Toastie loaf to Gluten Free range and updates design
    • Promise Gluten Free introduces three new gluten-free breads
      • Figure 19: New launches of gluten-free bread, 2020
    • Baking ingredients and mixes also see an uptick in activity
      • Figure 20: Gluten-free baking mix launches from Sweetpea Pantry, 2020
      • Figure 21: Share of product launches in the breakfast cereals, bakery, pasta and snack/cereal/energy bar markets carrying a gluten-free claim, by sub-category (sorted by 2020), 2016-20
    • Mrs Crimble’s extends its vegan range
      • Figure 22: Mrs Crimble’s Vegan Coconut Macaroons, 2020
    • Galaxy makes its debut in gluten-free cakes
    • Dairy-free
      • Figure 23: Share of dairy category launches carrying dairy-free and vegan/no-animal-ingredients claims, 2016-20
    • A rise in fortification in dairy alternatives
      • Figure 24: Share of launches of dairy-free/vegan/no-animal-ingredients launches in the dairy category featuring selected health claims, 2016-20
    • Alpro taps heightened interest in immune health
    • Danone expands its Actimel range into dairy-free
      • Figure 25: Launches of dairy-free functional yogurt drinks, 2020
    • Oats attract more activity in dairy substitutes
      • Figure 26: Share of launches of dairy-free/vegan/no-animal-ingredients launches in the dairy category featuring selected ingredients, 2016-20
    • Danone expands Activia and Light & Free ranges with oat milk-based variants
    • Oatly makes its first foray into both yogurt and cheese in 2020
      • Figure 27: Launches of oat-based yogurt alternatives, 2020
    • Alpro launches its first oat milk-based yogurt
    • The Coconut Collaborative unveils High Fibre Oat Yog
    • Arla makes its debut in plant-based
    • The Mighty Pea pushes into oat milk
    • More yogurt brands foray into plant-based
    • The Collective launches Collective Plant
    • Oykos introduces Greek-style Stracciatella
      • Figure 28: Oykos Coconut Based Greek Style Dairy Free Stracciatella, 2020
    • Indulgence trend is still going strong
    • Mars leads vegan NPD in the chocolate aisle
      • Figure 29: Vegan chocolate launches from Mars, 2020-21
    • Gü expands its free-from range
    • Nush pushes into desserts
    • Violife unveils chocolate spread
  11. Advertising and Marketing Activity

    • 11% fall in adspend on free-from food
      • Figure 30: Total above-the line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on free-from foods, 2019-20
    • ‘Milk moustached’ celebs return in Alpro’s playful new campaign
    • Oatly more than quadruples its spend
    • Debut TV ad targets the generation divide in usage of dairy substitutes
    • The campaign stirs up controversy and attracts media attention
    • “Tastes totally normal” is the message in outdoor and press campaign in 2020
    • The Coconut Collaborative also aims to overcome taste misconceptions
    • Violife becomes the official sponsor of Veganuary 2021
    • Warburtons partners with chef in recipe inspiration drive
    • Promise Gluten Free unveils biggest campaign to date
    • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
  12. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Food/ingredient avoidance in the household is reported by half of adults
    • Four in ten adults use or buy free-from food/drink
    • Cost is critical
    • Sustainability factors hold sway
    • Free-from ranges can be an important differentiator
    • Concerns around impact of Brexit need to be assuaged
    • Nutritional credentials are key
    • Blends of cow’s milks and plant milk appeal to a third
    • ‘Plant-based’ seen in a more positive light than ‘vegan’
  13. Impact of COVID-19 on Consumer Behaviours

    • Stockpiling led to stock shortages at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak
    • A boost to online shopping
    • COVID-19 brings environment into further spotlight
    • Health becomes a higher priority
    • Rise in home cooking favours the use of ingredients over processed free-from products
  14. Avoidance of Food/Ingredients

    • Food/ingredient avoidance in the household is reported by half of adults
      • Figure 31: Overall avoidance of foods/ingredients in the household, by reason, October 2020
    • Choice drives avoidance more than necessity
    • The sharpened focus on health and sustainability will fuel avoidance
    • Avoidance of dairy reported by 20%
      • Figure 32: Avoidance of foods/ingredients in the household, by type, October 2020
  15. Types of Free-from Products Bought/Eaten

    • 41% of adults use or buy free-from food/drink
      • Figure 33: Overall buying and usage of free-from food and drink, October 2020
    • Dairy substitutes are the most commonly used
      • Figure 34: Buying and usage of free-from food and drink, by type, October 2020
    • The younger generation are the core audience for free-from
      • Figure 35: Buying/usage of free-from food and drink, by age, October 2020
  16. Enticements to Buy a Free-from Food/Drink Product

    • Cost is critical
    • Sharper focus on cost bodes well for private label
    • Scope to illustrate free-from products’ place within great value meals
      • Figure 36: Enticements to buy a free-from food/drink product, October 2020
    • Taste is also vital
    • A focus on unique flavours can create a USP
      • Figure 37: Enticements to buy a free-from food/drink product, by buying/usage of free-from food/drink, October 2020
    • Sustainability factors hold sway
    • A need for more clarity and transparency around environmental footprints
  17. Behaviours Relating to Free-from Food/Drink

    • Free-from ranges can be an important differentiator
      • Figure 38: Behaviours relating to free-from food/drink, October 2020
    • Concerns around impact of Brexit need to be assuaged
    • Free-from cooking is well-ingrained
    • This interest can be harnessed by brands and retailers
  18. Attitudes towards Free-from Food/Drink

    • Nutritional credentials are key
      • Figure 39: Attitudes towards free-from food and drink, October 2020
    • Blends of cow’s milks and plant milk appeal to a third
    • UK brands can take cues from international NPD in this area
      • Figure 40: Attitudes towards free-from food/drink, October 2020
  19. Qualities Associated with Types of Free-from Food/drink

    • ‘Plant-based’ seen in a more positive light than ‘vegan’
      • Figure 41: Qualities associated with selected categories of free-from food/drink, October 2020
      • Figure 42: Further qualities associated with selected categories of free-from food/drink, October 2020
    • Perceptions of limited availability remain
  20. Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

    • Abbreviations
    • Consumer research methodology
  21. Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

    • Forecast methodology
      • Figure 43: UK retail value sales of free-from food and drink, best-and worst-case forecast, 2020-25
  22. Appendix – Launch Activity and Innovation

      • Figure 44: Share of seasonal food* product launches with free-from claims, by claim, 2016-20
      • Figure 45: Share of gluten-free launches in the breakfast cereals, bakery, pasta and snack/cereal/energy bar markets, by branded versus private label, 2016-20
      • Figure 46: Share of dairy-free launches in the dairy market, by branded versus private label, 2016-20

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