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US Free-from Food Trends Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Free-from Food Trends market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Definition

The purpose of this Report is to assess consumer attitudes and behaviors regarding foods bearing a “free-from” claim, meaning a processed food that claims to be free of one or more of the following:

  • GMOs
  • Allergens
  • Sodium
  • Nitrates/nitrites
  • Hormones
  • Lactose

This Report follows up on Free-from Food Trends – US, May 2015, as well as Gluten-free Foods – US, October 2016, which exclusively evaluates the market for foods and beverages without (or with lowered amounts of) wheat and gluten.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

Consumers are largely embracing free-from claims on foods, but not all claims are perceived or accepted equally or for the same reasons. The broader trend is being guided by those seeking sustained overall wellness rather than addressing an immediate nutritional or dietary need. Allergen-free claims appear to be mostly niche, and many of these may well have reached a saturation point. Conversely, the strong interest in more options free of artificial elements, as well as similarly strong regard for options that avoid high-fructose corn syrup and genetic modification, suggests that consumers’ true aim is to find options that are “real” and natural. William Roberts, Jr
Senior Food & Drink Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Avoidance largely tied to lifestyle choice
            • Figure 1: Foods/ingredients avoided, August 2017
          • Free-from options widely shopped
            • Figure 2: Purchase location, August 2017
          • Lack of trust in manufactured foods
            • Figure 3: Attitudes toward free-from foods, August 2017
          • Consumers as likely to cook free-from options from scratch
            • Figure 4: Opinions, by age, August 2017
          • The opportunities
            • Consumers associate short ingredient legends with healthier foods
              • Figure 5: Attitudes toward free-from foods, by age, August 2017
            • Convenient and lower-cost options could resonate with the category’s key consumer
              • Figure 6: Opinions, by age, August 2017
            • Parental potential for convenient allergen-friendly options
              • Figure 7: Opinions, by presence and age of children under 18, August 2017
            • What it means
            • Market Perspective

              • Brands, both retail and foodservice, eliminating artificial and unhealthy elements
              • Market Factors

                • Food allergy reactions rising
                  • Hispanics, particularly Millennials, seek healthy foods
                    • Figure 8: US population by Hispanic origin, 2017
                  • Diabetes, prediabetes numbers rise
                    • Heart concerns associated with sodium
                      • Figure 9: % of deaths caused by heart disease, 2013
                  • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                    • New products avoid artificial ingredients, allergens
                      • Avoiding fear
                      • What’s In?

                        • Launches avoiding allergens, GMO, artificial ingredients
                          • Figure 10: Top free-from claims among US food/beverage introductions, 2012-17
                      • What’s Next?

                        • Increasing transparency
                          • Figure 11: Emerging free-from claims among US food/beverage introductions, 2012-17
                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                        • Eliminating allergens, but mostly GMOs and HFCS
                          • Artificial avoidance
                            • Mass merchandisers rival supermarket for free-from options
                              • Niche claims coming into their own
                                • Hispanic Millennials express strong interest in ingredient transparency
                                  • Consumers likely turn to scratch cooking to avoid certain elements
                                  • Foods/Ingredients Avoided

                                    • HFCS, GMOs rank as most avoided
                                        • Figure 12: Foods/ingredients avoided, August 2017
                                      • Younger consumers much more likely to avoid allergens
                                        • Figure 13: Foods/ingredients avoided, by age, August 2017
                                      • Presence of children factors strongly in allergen avoidance
                                        • Figure 14: Allergens avoided, by number of children under 18 in household, August 2017
                                      • Education and HFCS avoidance
                                        • Figure 15: Ingredients avoided, by level of education, August 2017
                                      • Black consumers much more likely to avoid lactose
                                        • Figure 16: Foods/ingredients avoided, by race, August 2017
                                      • Hispanics, particularly Millennials, avoiding allergens
                                        • Figure 17: Allergens avoided, by Hispanic origin, August 2017
                                      • Supermarkets top resource for GMO- and HFCS-free
                                        • Figure 18: Foods/ingredients avoided, by purchase location, August 2017
                                    • Important Free-from Claims

                                      • Artificial-free important to consumers
                                          • Figure 19: Claim importance, August 2017
                                        • Older consumers avoiding sugar, sodium
                                          • Figure 20: Claim importance, by age, August 2017
                                        • Parents avoiding artificial and GMOs
                                          • Figure 21: Claim importance, by presence and age of children in household, August 2017
                                        • Black consumers avoiding sodium
                                          • Figure 22: Claim importance, by race, August 2017
                                        • Cage-free, lactose-free resonating with Hispanic Millennials
                                          • Figure 23: Claim importance, by Hispanic origin, August 2017
                                      • Purchase Location for Free-from Foods

                                        • Consumers turning to mass merchandisers for free-from foods
                                          • Figure 24: Purchase location, August 2017
                                        • Older consumers more likely to buy free-from from supermarkets
                                          • Figure 25: Purchase location, by age, August 2017
                                        • Financial ‘health’ factoring strongly in free-from retailer choice
                                          • Figure 26: Finance tracker, by purchase location, August 2017
                                        • Parents turning to mass merchandisers for free-from options
                                          • Figure 27: Purchase location, by parental status, August 2017
                                        • Food-allergic turning to mass merchandisers
                                          • Figure 28: Foods/ingredients avoided, by purchase location, August 2017
                                      • Possibly Emerging Free-from Claims

                                        • Consumers seeking to avoid hormones, antibiotics in food
                                            • Figure 29: Other free-from claims of interest, August 2017
                                          • Older consumers interested in MSG-free
                                            • Figure 30: Other free-from claims of interest, by age, August 2017
                                          • Hormone-free claims would resonate strongly with Hispanic consumers
                                            • Figure 31: Other free-from claims of interest, by Hispanic origin, August 2017
                                          • Multiple free-from claims could garner consumer interest
                                            • Figure 32: Other free-from claims of interest, TURF analysis, August 2017
                                        • Attitudes toward Free-from Foods

                                          • Consumers wary of food ingredients
                                            • Figure 33: Attitudes toward free-from foods, August 2017
                                          • Financially ‘healthy’ consumers may question free-from foods
                                            • Figure 34: Finance tracker, by attitudes toward free-from foods, August 2017
                                          • Ingredient transparency resonating with Hispanic Millennials
                                            • Figure 35: Attitudes toward food ingredients, by Hispanic origin, August 2017
                                        • Interest in Ingredient Disclosure

                                          • Parents seeking easy-to-find product information
                                            • Figure 36: Attitudes toward ingredient information, by presence and age of children under 18, August 2017
                                          • Hispanics appear wary of manufactured foods
                                            • Figure 37: Attitudes toward ingredient information, by Hispanic origin, August 2017
                                        • The Challenge of Purchasing and Preparing Free-from Foods

                                          • Expense, ingredient legends may be impacting free-from sales
                                              • Figure 38: Opinions of free-from purchase and preparation, August 2017
                                            • Free-from price weighing heavily on younger consumers
                                              • Figure 39: Opinions of free-from purchase and preparation, by age, August 2017
                                            • Allergen-free lunch options could resonate strongly with Hispanic Millennials
                                              • Figure 40: Purchasing free-from foods, by Hispanic origin, August 2017
                                            • Consumers who shop multiple stores show strong interest in transparency
                                              • Figure 41: Attitudes toward free-from foods, by repertoire of purchase location, August 2017
                                          • Preparing Free-from Meals

                                            • Customizable free-from options could resonate
                                              • Figure 42: Preparing free-from meals, by age, August 2017
                                            • Free-from with wide appeal would resonate with parents
                                              • Figure 43: Preparing free-from meals, by presence and age of children under 18, August 2017
                                            • Financially secure consumers more apt to avoid prepared free-from options
                                              • Figure 44: Finance tracker, by opinions of preparing free-from meals, August 2017
                                            • Hispanic non-Millennials likely to address free-from needs through from-scratch preparation
                                              • Figure 45: Preparing free-from meals, by Hispanic origin, August 2017
                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                            • Data sources
                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                • Consumer qualitative research
                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                    • TURF Analysis – Free-from Food Trends – October 2017

                                                      • Methodology
                                                        • Figure 46: Table – TURF analysis – Other free-from claims of interest, August 2017