More than a quarter of the British population purchase free-from products as a lifestyle choice, according to research by Harris Interactive.

A total of 2,035 consumers voted in the company’s poll, which revealed that people regularly bought dairy, gluten- or grain-free and lactose-free products.

Only 14% of those consumers said they had a medical problem that required them to avoid gluten and other allergens. 31% chose the option “for my general health”, 27% said it was a lifestyle choice and 23% wanted to avoid “feeling bloated”.

Gluten-free bakery Almondy reported last month that over a third of people bought a lactose-free product, and said there had never been a better time for operators to look at how they can make restaurant menus lactose-free friendly.

Talking to British Baker, Almondy managing director Andrew Ely said: “I’m not surprised that the latest free-from research has revealed that more than a quarter of Brits now regularly buy free-from products.

"Based on these latest findings we see no signs of this marketing slowing down. Gluten-free continues to be buoyant and – as the most common cause of dairy intolerance – we’re predicting lactose-free to grow in demand in the coming years."