In recent years, food allergies and sensitivities have come to occupy an increasingly prominent role in the discussion around food safety in the U.S.
This rise in importance can be explained by the fact that a growing segment of the population is being affected by various forms of food intolerance. For instance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that individuals with a sensitivity to gluten currently make up as much as 10 percent of the general population in the country.
Sales of gluten-free foods have already surpassed $2.6 billion in the U.S. and a survey conducted by Packaged Facts asserts that the gluten-free market will exceed $5 billion by 2015. Globally, the market for food products directed towards people with food allergies and other intolerances is expected to exceed $26.5 billion by 2017, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
These strong growth projections show the considerable importance of catering to consumers with sensitivities to gluten or other allergens. And, members of this rapidly expanding group of consumers are increasingly demanding guarantees of safety in the products they are purchasing. This is putting those companies with demonstrable commitments to safety at a competitive advantage.
For instance, ConAgra Mills contracts with a facility that is dedicated to producing only gluten-free flour. This action significantly reduces the risk of cross-contamination and stands in stark contrast to a recent announcement by Domino's. The pizza company said it would be offering a gluten-free pizza, but that it would not be appropriate for those with more than a mild sensitivity to the substance, because Domino's could "not guarantee that each pizza will be completely free from gluten."
Implementing a labeling solution that allows product traceability can empower proactive companies to publicize their commitment to consumer safety and highlight the practical actions they have taken to guarantee it.