As we see each and every January, those laden with Christmas guilt vow to be the healthiest versions of themselves, writes HIM’s Ruth Cousins. However, as health trends continue to widen we may see shoppers straying away from the traditional fresh fruit and veg options. At HIM we’ve been taking a look at the rise of the Free-from trend and the rapidly increasing number of shoppers that consider themselves to have food intolerances.

In a recent study we found that 30% of 18- to 34- year-olds consider themselves to have some sort of food intolerance, half of these were self-diagnosed. The proportion significantly drops for older age groups. There is little to suggest that younger generations are more susceptible to food intolerances, therefore this is likely to be due to the increased availability of information sources such as the internet.

So how can convenience store retailers maximise the opportunity that comes with the rise of Free from? With a great influx of products entering the market it is not feasible for you to stock them all. Our research has shown that the biggest opportunity in Free from comes from milk products as one in 10 shoppers told us that they have a dairy intolerance.

Retailers should be looking to stock soya and nut milks as a minimum. Stock fresh options, but also consider long-life as often fewer people in a household will be drinking dairy-free milks compared with dairy.

So far, convenience retailers aren’t doing badly at catering for the Free-from shopper. One-third of shoppers said that they’d noticed a designated Free-from section in their local c-store. If there is space available, a designated Free-from area will attract those with food intolerances into a store (over a store without).

Such an initiative means shoppers will be able to find items quicker, and it will build their trust that the shop provides products they can tolerate. The best-designated sections will be clearly signed in store so shoppers can find them easily.

So if you’re not doing so already, why not try something new for 2017 and see if you can’t gain something from the Free-from craze