Food Allergies and Intolerances in 2024

12th April 2024


While there has been a surge in awareness around food and drink-related allergies and intolerances among younger demographics in the past decade, it’s important to note that only half of the population feels confident in distinguishing between an allergy and an intolerance. Furthermore, there is often a lack of understanding regarding the profound impact of food allergies on the immune system and food intolerances on the digestive system.

This widespread lack of knowledge regarding the distinct symptoms and impacts on well-being calls for attention, especially given that consumers perceive immune function and digestive health as fundamental to overall well-being. As a result, this increases the likelihood of individuals confusing allergies with intolerances, or self-diagnosing conditions that may not accurately reflect their situation.

Food Allergies, Food Intolerances, FMCG, Consumer Insights, Market Research, Ingredients.

Symptoms and Ingredients

Globally, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights reveal that 41% of consumers report having a food allergy or intolerance, with a slight prevalence of reported intolerances which are often associated with milder symptoms.

Our findings indicate a substantial number of consumers are actively seeking to avoid specific ingredients or products when selecting food and beverages due to the potential impact on their well-being and the heightened risk of serious health issues. It emphasizes the critical significance of ensuring that product labeling provides clear and uncomplicated information, and that there is a diverse range of suitable products available to accommodate individuals adhering to specific dietary requirements, both in retail and food service settings. 

Diagnosis and Sources of Information

Slightly more than a third of consumers who report having a food allergy or intolerance have not received a formal diagnosis from a healthcare professional. Among those individuals, only half are confident in the accuracy of their self-proclaimed health condition.

Consumers frequently turn to online sources for information on allergies and intolerances, bypassing the guidance of medical experts, leading to self-diagnosis and potentially inaccurate assessments. Consequently, the percentage of consumers claiming to have allergies or intolerances often surpasses official national statistics in many countries. The hazards of self-diagnosis include misinterpreting symptoms as one condition when they may require different dietary adjustments, as well as the potential for consumers to unnecessarily eliminate vital nutrients and food items from their diets.  

Food Allergies, Food Intolerances, FMCG, Consumer Insights, Market Research, Ingredients.

Consumer Concerns

Among consumers who claim to be free from allergies or intolerances, four in ten express concerns about either developing such conditions or believe that they already have them. This emphasizes two important issues. Firstly, individuals might experience symptoms without a formal healthcare professional diagnosis, leading to instances where people have undiagnosed allergies or intolerances, or are self-diagnosing and mistaking other health issues for allergies or intolerances.

Secondly, it signifies a widespread belief that allergies and intolerances can manifest over time due to various factors, from aging and gut health to poor dietary habits and food choices. Regardless of the perceived reasons behind the development of allergies and intolerances, these findings indicate that over the next decade, the proportion of consumers self-identifying with allergies or intolerances is more likely to increase rather than decrease. 

This article is based on FMCG Gurus: Food Allergies and Intolerances – Global Reports 2024. For more information, please click here.

Back to Blog

Latest Posts

Click below to share this post: