The price of more than 260 SKUs has risen over the past 12 weeks

Shoppers with food allergies are facing “discriminatory” levels of inflation, experts have warned, with prices for many free-from food items soaring above the rate of inflation in the mults.

Research by The Grocer using Assosia data shows prices of more than 260 SKUs across free-from food cupboard products, bakery, desserts, chilled and frozen categories have risen over the past 12 weeks.

Key players in the free-from fixture – including brands such as Warburtons and Genius – saw hikes.

Warburtons Gluten Free Multiseed Loaf 300g rose 8% in Tesco from £1.85 to £2 on 20 July. Genius White Free From Rolls 4 Pack, meanwhile, rose from £2 to £2.10 on 4 July in the retailer and then from £2.10 to £2.20 on 18 July – a 10% price increase overall [Assosia 12 w/e 20 July 2022].

Dairy-free and lactose-free brands, too, saw prices rise. In Sainsbury’s, for instance, Arla Lactofree Soft Cheese 200g rose by 25% from £1.40 to £1.75 on 2 June. Meanwhile, Violife Vegan Greek White Block 230g was subject to an 11.1% price increase in Tesco on 21 June from £2.70 to £3 [Assosia].

A spokeswoman for Lactofree owner Arla said it was ”absorbing as much of these costs as we possibly can, together with our retail customers and our farmers, in order to minimise the impact on consumers”.

“Regrettably the cost increases are so significant we do have to pass some of these on to ensure our farmers and our production facilities can continue the supply of products into the shops.”

The inflation was not limited to brands. Many own-label product prices are rising well above the rate of inflation, the data shows.

Morrisons’ own-label Free From Chocolate Bar 100g, for instance, rose 30.8% from £1.30 to £1.70 on 7 May 2022, the data shows, while its Free From Breadcrumbs 170g, rose 61.3% from 80p to £1.29 on 1 July.

Asda’s Free From 4 White Rolls 260g, meanwhile, rose in price by 26.9% from £1.30 to £1.65 on 19 May. 

The Grocer has approached the retailers and brands above for comment.

Without the option to trade down in many free-from fixtures, shoppers with the most severe allergies often “simply have no choice” but to stump up as prices rise, said Spoon Guru CPMO Markus Stripf.

“We actually conducted some research a while ago, which showed that 64% of people we asked believe that a restrictive diet generally means it’s more expensive,” said Stripf. “Retailers and manufacturers in general should really ensure that they don’t discriminate against specific socioeconomic groups, or demographics.”

Research by Coeliac UK last year, too, revealed 87% of 1,891 gluten-free shoppers surveyed had seen a reduction in the number of gluten-free foods available. Ninety-two per cent of 946 respondents said they had seen price increases on gluten-free product ranges.