11 May 2015 11:10

Marketing students from Lancaster University Management School are to work with The Black Farmer to research why people choose gluten-free products as a lifestyle choice.

According to Coeliac UK one in 100 people in the UK has Coeliac Disease and must follow a gluten free diet. Yet the stats reveal that more than 12 million people in the UK – double the number of diagnosed Coeliacs - are following a gluten free lifestyle from choice.

The Black Farmer, gluten free advocate and the UK’s top selling super premium gluten free sausage brand, wants to understand why. And in its quest to know more, The Black Farmer is collaborating with students at Lancaster University Management School to discover the motivations behind this lifestyle choice.

“It is so exciting to be working with a group of students from Lancaster University on this project, which in itself is fascinating, said Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones aka The Black Farmer. “They have a fresh approach and are as enthusiastic as I am to find out more. I’m sure they will come up with some interesting and revealing findings.”

According to Kantar Worldpanel, ‘more than half the population is now buying Free-From, possibly reflecting increased ranges and innovation. Existing shoppers are also choosing to buy Free-From more frequently, pushing up volume per purchaser.’

Worth just £135m five years ago, the Free-From market is now worth £355m and growing at 19.9% year on year. Mintel forecasts that it will reach £540m by 2018.

“I think it is a staggering statistic that many millions of people are following a gluten free diet as a lifestyle choice”, said Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones aka The Black Farmer. “But we don’t really understand the reason why. Is it for health benefits? To lose weight? A fad? Celebrity led? Or simply that if one member of the family needs to follow a gluten free diet, then the rest of the family follows suit. And is it these people who are fuelling the massive growth in the Free-From grocery market which has doubled in value in the last five years.”

Helen Meek, from Lancaster University Management School, said: “It is really interesting that so many people are choosing gluten-free diets as a lifestyle choice. Our marketing students will investigate the motivations behind these choices so we can gain a better understanding of these consumers’ behaviour and also provide recommendations to The Black Farmer.

“This research project is also a fantastic practical learning experience for our students that will help to equip them with industry-relevant skills when they enter the workforce.”

Lancaster University welcomes, and actively seeks, opportunities for its students to work on defined projects that bring benefits to business and enhanced learning experiences that boost the employability of its students.

More information about student consulting projects at Lancaster University Management School can be found by visiting http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/business/student-consulting-projects/ or by calling Jennifer Peasnell on 01524 510718.