New research commissioned by AI-powered food search and discovery platform Spoon Guru has found almost half (47%) of Americans with exclusion diets struggle to manage their preferences when socialising at functions. The study revealed people with food allergies, intolerances or those following a lifestyle diet shy away from events due to a fear their dietary needs will not be catered for. The data highlighted consumers aged 45 to 54 find it the most difficult to dine at socials followed by the age range of 25 to 34.
Shockingly the survey unveiled 41% of respondents believe they have been snubbed by restaurants because of their specific dietary needs. The poll found that almost half of men (48%) faced some form of prejudice whilst it was the experience of over a third of women (36%).
The study also revealed more than half consumers (52%) battle to find food suitable for their requirements when eating out at restaurants. Meanwhile, it seems Americans with exclusion diets also may fear meal time in the homes of their family or friends; 50% revealed it can be challenging to have their dietary needs met when the food is served.
The research – which sought to identify consumer struggles when it comes to food shopping, discovery and consumption – found 30 million US citizens with dietary requirements¹ accidentally consume food excluded from their diet on a weekly basis. Respondents (54%) named non-existent or poor product labeling as the number one reason why they purchased or consumed the wrong food. Waiter error was called out as the number two reason by 52% and personal error came in third (37%).
Interestingly, the data revealed 61% of respondents believe having a restrictive diet means they spend more money on food. Nearly two thirds of consumers (64%) agreed they spend up to $50 more a month on food because of their preferences. And while grocery shopping is a mundane task for most, the survey found that vegan consumers (46%) have a particularly hard time when purchasing food online or instore, followed by vegetarians (39%), and consumers on gluten free diets (33%).
Commenting on the findings of the nationwide survey, Markus Stripf, CEO and co-founder of Spoon Guru, said: “The study found there is astounding support (86%) for the idea retailers should go above and beyond the current regulations to give customers more clarity on ingredients. It’s also clear hospitality staff need further training on the ever changing dietary landscape to make sure guests don’t feel alienated.
“The great news is that both retailers and businesses in the hospitality industry are starting to adopt smart technology, so it won’t be long until food discovery becomes inclusive no matter whether the consumer has an allergy, suffers from an intolerance or is simply following a lifestyle diet.”