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Published August 12th 2019

Peanut Allergies Suck. Here’s How Brands Can Turn the Conversation Around

Peanut allergies in the UK have increased five-fold between 1995 and 2016. After recently being diagnosed with a nut allergy, Brandwatch analyst Natascha Sturm wanted to investigate how the world is talking about the issue.

While the reason is a little unclear, allergies really are on the rise.

As Dr Alexandra Santos writes for BBC News:

“The rise in allergies in recent decades has been particularly noticeable in the West. Food allergy now affects about 7% of children in the UK and 9% of those in Australia, for example. Across Europe, 2% of adults have food allergies.

“Life-threatening reactions can be prompted even by traces of the trigger foods, meaning patients and families live with fear and anxiety. The dietary restrictions which follow can become a burden to social and family lives.”

As one of the many people living with a peanut allergy, I am constantly facing the task of finding food that I like to eat that’s also safe for me to eat. I love chocolate, and yet many chocolate bars contain peanuts. The struggle is real, and I’m not alone in talking about it.

In 2018, there were nearly 170,000 mentions of peanut allergies online, and that was up more than 300% on 2017. I made it my mission to pull insights out of the conversation that could be useful for brands with products containing nuts.

What do people with nut allergies crave most?

I broke the online conversation down by food types to see where those with nut allergies are most under-served.

Surprisingly, the craving that individuals with nut allergies have the most is peanut butter!

And, looking at sweets, Reese’s is a common topic of conversation (probably due to the dreamy combination of peanut butter and chocolate).

With food brands opening up to alternative recipes, like vegan alternatives, there could be a big opportunity here for classic sweets brands to broaden their offerings and open new revenue streams.

Listen up, Reese’s – how about a new butter cup with different kind of nut?

Nut so happy

Peanut is the most discussed nut allergy since 2016. And, as mentioned above, peanut allergy conversation increased by more than 300% between 2017 and 2018.

Within all that conversation, sadly, there’s not much to be cheerful about. The dominant emotions for the allergies I searched for were sadness, disgust, and anger.

But there’s an opportunity to turn that around. While allergies can instil fear and anxiety, we’re living in a world where alternatives to traditional recipes are being cooked up all the time. Just think about how many vegan alternatives there are.

To turn this fairly depressing conversation into a positive one, how about we apply that thinking to peanut-based foods and the alternatives that could satisfy the cravings of the rapidly growing allergic community?

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