Should your next product be allergen-free?

allergen free

Written by Glen Call

February 9, 2021

When creating a new product to bring to the world, there are a lot of things to consider. Should it be indulgent or healthy? Traditional or organic? Local or global ingredients? Keto, paleo, or vegan? Sugar-free, natural sugar, or sugar substitutes? The list goes on and on. But no matter what you decide, one question you should ask is: should your next product be allergen-free?

How widespread are food allergies?

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, 32 million people in the US have food allergies. That’s about 10% of the population. And it’s growing. These people need to look at every label and every menu before they eat to ensure they don’t get sick. When you create a product with allergens, it can eliminate 10% of the population from your consumer base.  And that doesn’t include all the people in that same household. By creating a product without known allergens, you’re making a choice to be more available to more people.

What ingredients should I steer clear of?

Of the 32 million people dealing with food allergies, 98% of them are from the top eight allergens. These foods are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Fish

When you remove these items or their derivatives from your recipe, your product can reach more people. It also gives you another badge on your product label and something to be proud of. Today, it’s easier than ever to replace those ingredients with a reasonable facsimile. That replacement won’t compromise on taste or texture and can make more people happy.

How does allergen-free work in food manufacturing?

To get your product to be allergen-free you have three options.

  • Option 1: Use the same lines you already use for your other product. If you do this, you must clean your equipment each time between regular and gluten-free products. This ensures no contamination of allergens can occur. This means your line will need to close during cleaning, and you’ll still have to put a disclaimer on your product. That disclaimer will say something like “made in a facility that also produces soy/tree nuts/wheat”. That may be a worry for some consumers and they may choose another product over yours.
  • Option 2: Create a new manufacturing line and facility that is allergen-free. This ensures that you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination and don’t need the disclaimer on your packaging. However, the cost of a new line and facility is often staggering. And before sales take off, that equipment might often sit unused, giving you an asset that isn’t making you money.
  • Option 3: Use a dedicated allergen-free copacker. This option is often chosen by manufacturers. It doesn’t require the initial cash outlay for the equipment and facility. You won’t have equipment lying dormant. And you don’t have to worry about product disclaimers or cross-contamination. Those copackers will never allow ingredients that have allergens in their facilities. If you don’t want the headache, using a dedicated allergen-free copacker is the best option.

Conclusion

Not every product should be allergen-free. But in today’s market, and with the science and options before us, making allergen-free is easier than ever. Consider how you can make your product more accessible by substituting a few ingredients. You will see the windows of opportunity open as a result.

Learn More about how we produce allergen-free product in our Dedicated Gluten Free Facility.

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