The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association announced the release of its latest original research, Focus on Allergens: A Matter of Trust. The IDDBA-commissioned study, prepared by Phil Lempert, SupermarketGuru, identifies what “must-haves” encourage shopper loyalty among shoppers who have food allergies. It also focuses on how customer’s observations and perceptions shape which supermarket dairy, deli, and bakery departments they shop and favor.

The report underscores how food allergy handling practices in dairy, deli, and bakery departments directly impact credibility with shoppers. Focus on Allergens examines how focusing on food allergy safety best practices and communication could have a positive effect on shopper trust, employee morale, and a store’s sales.  

Among the research discoveries are:

When asked if they would shop at a store more often if it was identified through signage as “allergy friendly” or “allergy aware,” a resounding 56.5% said they would; almost half said they would shop there more often that if it had had a retail dietitian to answer questions about food allergies.

Just 5% reported that they were aware that their store has trained its staff with food allergy certification programs. Of the 95% who said their store did not have allergy trained staff, 60% said they would shop there more often if they did the training. This also underscores for stores that do certify, the importance of posting these certifications prominently in the dairy-deli-bakery departments.

When examining products with allergen claims, over four in 10 shoppers feel the need to ask the department’s staff about product ingredients, but less than half of these report that they are satisfied with the answers given by the fresh service department staff.

“Food allergens is a deadly-serious reality for some of the estimated 15 million Americans who suffer from them, resulting in 200,000 emergency rooms visits and up to 200 deaths per year,” said Mary Kay O’Connor, VP Education, IDDBA. “Findings from this report illustrate the important role store associates can play in assisting food allergen shoppers, both from a knowledge and a trust standpoint.” “Approximately 1 in every 25 shoppers either has a food allergy or is shopping for someone who does.”