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The Picky Eater Myth: Why Considering Dietary Restrictions Is Essential to the Food Industry’s Future

17 October 2022

When you were a child, you were likely discouraged from being a “picky eater.” Maybe you were told that you absolutely could not leave the kitchen table unless your plate was perfectly clean. You may find yourself doing the same now to your kids.

In 2022, we are in the midst of the rise of dietary restrictions. There are many individuals who cannot or will not eat a variety of different things. This is less about picky eating than it is about consumers making personal decisions about what goes into their mouths. Some are motivated by health reasons, like those with celiac disease or lactose intolerance. Others, such as vegetarians and vegans, are motivated by ethical and environmental concerns.

These demographics are not going anywhere. In fact, they are already playing a massive role in the future of the food industry. Consequently, food companies must consider these dietary restrictions when developing new food products.

Common Dietary Restrictions

First, we will explore some of the common dietary restrictions affecting the food industry today.


“Plant-based” is an umbrella term that includes several distinct diets.

Vegetarianism is a common plant-based diet and describes individuals who do not eat meat or fish. They often still consume dairy and eggs. Someone may opt for a vegetarian diet because of concerns for their health, the environment, or animal welfare.

Veganism is another plant-based diet and lifestyle that has grown rapidly over recent years. These individuals are motivated by ethical and environmental concerns over planetary and animal welfare. Vegans do not consume any animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.

There tends to be great variety in the dietary styles of individuals who identify simply as “plant-based.” However, these individuals usually eat predominantly (or exclusively) plants, and little or no meat. They may or may not consume dairy products or other animal-derived products like gelatin.

Pescetarianism is a close cousin to plant-based diets. These individuals are essentially vegetarians who eat fish and other seafood.

The explosion of plant-based diets in recent years has led to the rapid development of a wide variety of plant-based products. In 2020, nearly 3% of the American population identified as plant-based. This number is expected to continue to increase.


A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that affects 1% of the population. The ingestion of gluten damages the small intestine and causes other unpleasant side effects in those with celiac disease.

As a result, the demand for gluten-free products has skyrocketed over the last two decades. During this period, it has become more common for North American individuals to be diagnosed with celiac disease. Additionally, more consumers opt to avoid gluten, citing a gluten intolerance or a pursuit of other health benefits.

For those with celiac disease, consumption of gluten is painful and extremely detrimental to their well-being. Consequently, it is of paramount importance for these individuals to find gluten-free products that they can trust. In the restaurant sector, cross-contamination is a major concern for the gluten-free community.

Lactose Intolerance

Of course, there is an overlap between the plant-based and lactose-intolerant markets. After all, vegans and other individuals with plant-based diets already do not consume dairy products. This is accelerating the growth of the lactose-free food sector as more dairy-free products continue to enter the market.

Additionally, lactose intolerance is increasing throughout the global population. It is estimated that as many as 68% of the global population and 36% of Americans have some form of aversion to lactose. This is further expanding the demand for dairy-free products. Obesity is also spurring individuals to opt for lactose-free products, as is the demand for low-fat food from fitness enthusiasts.

Dairy-free products most commonly use almond, soy, coconut, oats, or hemp. Milk-based but lactose-free products are also available. These are divided into lactose-free infant formula, lactose-free dairy, lactose-free confectionery, and lactose-free bakery.

Why It Matters

The numbers should speak for themselves. A massive portion of the population has some form of dietary restriction. If the food industry fails to adapt and accommodate these demographics, it will experience significant monetary loss. Companies will lose market share and profits will stagnate.

Fortunately, the rise of dietary restrictions also offers vast opportunities for food product developers.

There are endless new products to be imagined and introduced to the market. These can be tailored to individuals with specific dietary restrictions, such as vegetarianism or veganism. Hela Spice is happy to help you develop your next best-selling product that will appeal to these demographics!

How can the food industry adapt?

First, the food industry can adapt by developing new appetizing food products for these consumers. With modern technology, a thorough understanding of flavour, and accurate consumer research, creating best-selling products has never been more attainable. Hela Spice is an expert at food innovation and is ready to develop your next best-selling product.

The food industry can also adjust by practicing transparency. It is more important than ever to be transparent about ingredient lists, production processes, and menus. Companies must be forthright with consumers.

Individuals with celiac disease must be informed of any potential gluten contamination and know, without a doubt, that a product is safe for them to consume. Similarly, those with a lactose-intolerance must be able to make informed decisions about their health and avoid products that will make them sick. Vegetarians and vegans also need to know if a product aligns with their ethics.

Product Innovation With Hela Spice

Hela Spice has a long history of food product innovation. Our expert R&D team can craft the perfect signature flavour for your new gluten-free, lactose-free, or plant-based product. Step into the future of food with Hela Spice!

To learn more about our food product development, visit Hela Spice at www.helaspice.com or contact us here.

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