Families living with food allergy are facing “extortionate” bills at the supermarket checkout and this contributes to the “nightmare” of food shopping when your child has the condition. This was just some of the feedback we had from parents and carers who responded to The Allergy Team’s recent inflation survey.

A huge thank you to all of you who took part or sent us pictures of free-from products which are now costing you more than they were before.

We started delving into this because our co-founder Sarah, who also has two sons with food allergies, noticed that Alpro Growing Up Milk has gone up from £1.40 to £1.70 in a year in some stores and the dairy-free Pure Margarine she buys was £1.50 in January 2021 and £1.80 in January 2022.

The Allergy Team is trying to get to the bottom of why this is happening and to find out if free-from price rises are really greater than those for other food types (watch this space!) but it certainly feels that way from what you’ve told us.

RESULTS OF OUR INFLATION SURVEY

140 people living with food allergy responded to our survey.

– Seven out of ten parents who responded said they have seen prices increase over the past year for the foods they rely on to keep their children safe.

–  Just under 90% told us they found food shopping a negative experience, with the same percentage saying that food allergies dictate where they shop.

– Nearly 70% of those who answered said they shop at 3 or more different supermarkets to find all the free-from products they need, spending far longer on this task than other families.

– One family told us they now “go without” some products because the cost of alternative products they buy due to food allergy “has gone up much more….than other items.”

There’s been so much in the news recently about the cost of living as inflation soars (in December 2021 consumer price inflation was recorded at the highest level since 1992) but we know that allergy families are often hit hardest; we can’t shop around for the cheapest own-brand food and free-from products carry a premium.

The lack of freedom to pick supermarket own brands and budget goods is one of the factors which contributes to supermarket shopping being a “nightmare” and a “minefield” according to those of you who took part in the survey.

The bad news is that things look set to get worse. Data company Kantar has warned that households could see their grocery bills go up by £180 a year.

The good news is that Lucy Upton, a brilliant dietitian who does a lot of work with children with food allergies, will be leading a Q&A with us on Friday 25th February and will include lots of budget-friendly tips.  You can sign up here.

February 2022