UK-based meat processor Moy Park is investing in allergen-free production amid growing domestic demand.

The company, owned by US poultry group Pilgrim’s Pride, is spending GBP12m (US$16.1m) at its plant in Grantham in eastern England, with part of the investment on a fully-contained “free from” factory on the site.

“Consumers nowadays take a holistic view to health and healthy eating, and the growth of free-from categories is one area which exemplifies this. Whilst only small numbers of consumers actually suffer from a food allergy, far greater numbers are changing their eating behaviour for health reasons; 5% of consumers suffer from gluten intolerance, but 30% say that they have eaten a gluten free product in the last six months,” Moy Park told just-food.

“This level of interest is continuing to drive double-digit growth in the market and, with interest in gluten free highest amongst younger shoppers, this is a trend which we expect to continue to develop for many years.”

The investment at the Grantham plant, which is seeing Moy Park spend on mixing and processing equipment, is expected to be completed later this year.

The company has finalised a GBP6m project at its plant 20 miles further north in Anwick that has seen the business invest in areas including automation.