How a new Australian outlet is helping allergy sufferers
How can we better cater for the more than four million Australians who live with some type of allergy? We asked the founders of The Allergy Alley for their expert insights.
Australia has been dubbed the allergy capital of the world – and for good reason. Not only do one in 10 babies born in Australia develop a food allergy, the rate of hospital admissions for severe allergic reactions has doubled in the last decade.
The ‘why?’ question is complex to answer, but one thing is certain: there’s a big and growing market for products catering for Australians with allergies. As well as being an ‘allergy family’ themselves, it’s one of the reasons Cass and Josh Watson recently launched The Allergy Alley, an online shop where people and families affected by a variety of different allergies can shop for suitable products.
“We were definitely motivated by our own experiences trying to navigate a household with two allergy kids, a coeliac and an ever-growing list of dietary demands,” says Cass Watson. “Finding everything that we all needed week to week, dragging the kids from store to store was becoming a massive chore that I felt we were surely not alone in.”
From that, The Allergy Alley was born. “It’s a one-stop shop that allowed us to bring all of the things that we struggled to find together and the reception we’ve had from our customers has been amazing. We’re still fairly new, but even in the few months we’ve been going there has definitely been an increase in the awareness of the needs of the allergy community.”
While allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is one of the most common allergies in Australia affecting one in five people, other common ones are fragrance and latex allergies, as well as food allergies. And while eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and cow’s milk are the most common triggers of allergic reactions in children, fish and shellfish allergy are most common in adulthood. Along with soy, wheat and sesame, those nine foods cause 90 per cent of all food-based allergic reactions in Australia.
“Dairy-free and gluten-free products are becoming more and more available,” says Watson, “so that even big-name companies are adding gluten-free products to their ranges, but I feel it’s still lacking. More can be done to make life with allergies simpler – to be more inclusive both in a proactive and reactive approach.”
Where does Watson see the greatest potential for product innovation? “People love to hide their differences in plain sight,” she says. “No one wants to be that kid that stands out from their peers. We all want to feel included, especially when we are already so segregated.
“I think if a brand was to create safe products that cater for a variety of allergies, while actually looking, feeling and tasting like their mainstream counterparts, they’d be onto something.”
You can browse The Allergy Alley and its wide range of products on offer at the Naturally Good Product Directory here.