London, January 25, 2019: New research by Spoon Guru has found that a staggering 55% of UK consumers have unintentionally consumed food restricted from their diet. Eating out continues to be the biggest challenge. Over two thirds (70%) of respondents have been served the wrong food as a result of an error by the waiting staff in bars and restaurants. 42% of Brits with allergies, intolerances, or lifestyle diets named poor food labelling as the second most common reason for purchasing incorrect products. Meanwhile 21% have unintentionally purchased unsuitable food from retailers due to poor labelling on at least a weekly basis.
The study looked into the struggles of consumers throughout the UK that have food allergies, intolerances or lifestyle diets, and unveiled some shocking finds.
70% of shoppers with severe allergies or intolerances indicated that they struggle to identify the right food for their dietary needs whilst 53% of vegans said they were affected. Additionally, the research found that those trying to reduce salt, fat, or sugar intake were also affected, with 55% saying they suffer the most from vague or non-existent ingredient labelling when trying to find the right products.
While grocery shopping is a simple task for most, almost 16% of those surveyed find it daunting. The data found Brits over 60, who have some form of exclusion diet, struggle the most (23%) when shopping for foods online or at supermarkets. The research revealed those looking to remove Palm Oil have the greatest challenge when it comes to food discovery, with 22% finding it challenging to match products to their preferences.
With an increase of UK consumers adopting exclusion diets, whether due to medical reasons, intolerance, or simply as a lifestyle choice, there is a clear need to make food discovery much more inclusive.
The study found there is astounding support (99%) for the idea that retailers should go above and beyond the current regulations to improve ingredient clarity, and the general feeling among UK consumers is for on-trade and off-trade retailers to take more accountability where food labelling is concerned. Interestingly, the data also revealed that an overwhelming 83% of consumers believe that the use of technology will be a key enabler to solving the shortcomings surrounding food labelling transparency.
While there are a lot of learnings and discussions to be had about how to make food discovery and shopping accessible, the great news is that more and more food businesses like restaurants and retailers are open to using smart technology as a platform to cater for people who have specific dietary requirements.