A couple of months ago we talked about flexitarianism impacting on demand for vegan products. There are obviously other special dietary requirements which you may have experienced to a lesser or greater extent. In addition to vegan and vegetarian, the most common special dietary requirements are sugar free, dairy free and gluten free, and that’s before we even step into the world of allergens or religious eating constraints. So the question is, which of these should you make special dietary gelato for or should you make special gelato at all?
You may find that you already have products that meet some of these dietary requirements. Many fruit flavours are naturally gluten free, sorbets are dairy free and so on. Maybe you have only rarely been asked for any of these before, so you don’t believe there is a demand. However I have found that if one person has asked there could be a ten others who don’t want to make a fuss but would like the option of dietary gelato and ice cream.
Here are some estimated stats about the number of people in the UK on special diets:
This totals over 21 million people with special dietary requirements although we can’t be sure how many follow more than one special diet, so even if on a conservative estimate we said there were over 15 million adhering to one or more of these diets, that equates to over 20% of the population. However here is an interesting point – apparently 54% of households buy at one time or another from the ‘free from’ ranges. This indicates a similar pattern to what we highlighted with flexitarianisms, that consumers are selecting to buy from the ‘free from’ product lines rather than being forced to due to a medical condition. So should we ignore this trend or embrace it given we are in the business of desserts and treats?
When I am asked ‘should I make a special dietary ice cream or gelato?’ by customers, I know that deep down they are hoping I will say ‘no’. Why is that? In my experience I would say that mostly people are nervous about extra costs of buying in different ingredients for a relatively small market, with low demand where there may be wastage. Also there are concerns that the special recipe doesn’t keep as long. However these need not be barriers to making special dietary recipes for ice cream or gelato.
In summary, looking at the trends I don’t think we can afford to ignore this sector so why don’t you go ahead and experiment with a new ‘free from’ recipe and if you need any help with balancing it you know where to find me.
See you next time for the latest scoop.
Shulan Antonelli’s National Technical Manager Jonny Ireland is a regular contributor to the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…
See how this article looked in the September ’19 edition of the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…