The free-from trend is growing in frozen food, with more producers introducing both gluten-free and lactose-free ranges, on the background of increased consumer demand for such products in frozen food retailing.
According to Mintel, the free-from growth is driven by the gluten-free craze: 1 in 10 new products is now free from one or more allergens while almost 8%5 of all new frozen food product launches in Europe were gluten free.
“Although still limited in Europe, Mintel says there has been an increase in lactose free products, especially on developed markets, such as Germany. In fact, a survey shows that 46% of German consumers are interested in purchasing lactose free frozen food, such as pizza for example. Moreover, the share of non-dairy launches reached 8% of the total ice cream introductions in 2015, compared to just 2% in 2013-2014,” says Mintel.
With regards to the target market, young consumers with ages 16-34 are the most willing to buy dairy free ice cream and innovations in using milk replacement products are also on the rise. Among the most common of these, there are coconut milk, almond milk, pea protein as well as a more recent variant, namely cashew milk.
As Mintel says, there is a growing trend among consumers of switching from lactose-free to dairy-free products. Consequently, key brands are starting to engage with the Millenial generation, by using the above mentioned new types of milk, much more so than the soy alternative, which has been slowly decreasing as an alternative since it is considered an allergen itself.
Regardless of the choice alternative used, flavor remains a key factor for non-dairy frozen desserts, and is placed on top of the manufacturers’ NPD list, since the dairy-free market will continue to grow, not only because of intolerances, but also due to the fact that consumers see a plant based diet (including frozen food) as healthier.