Manufacturers Need to Think ‘Global’ to Succeed in Free-From Market

Across the developed world, ‘free-from’ continues to grow in popularity as a top food trend, with many people opting in to the diet, often for healthy lifestyle reasons, rather than due to food intolerances or allergies. Indeed, consumers are becoming more and more health conscious. As a result, the sector has seen massive growth all over the world, particularly in Europe and North America.

Retailers and food manufacturers are starting to realise the importance of ‘free-from’ on-pack labeling. As a result, products that have always traditionally been ‘free-from’ such as crisps and popcorn are now being branded specifically as ‘free-from’ products, as it makes them more appealing to the ever health-conscious consumer. ‘Free-from’ products are also becoming more ubiquitous and readily available and this is the case across multiple retailers, discounters, c-stores and food service channels.

In the UK, the gluten-free market has grown by 10% in 2013 and is expected to grow by more than 50% before 2016. This is clearly a market that has a lot of potential for big gains, but it is important to target the right customers and markets, especially as the market is becoming increasingly saturated. The era of the plucky small company challenging the food industry titans appears to be drawing to a close. Although many smaller firms with a distinctive proposition based on a unique product can and will make it through to the shelves.

The annual free-from Food Expo is a great initiative and I’m really looking forward to attending it again and meeting ‘free-from’ manufacturers from all over the globe. I will be giving a talk there on the global ‘free-from’ market, with some insights into the latest up and coming trends. I will also be offering advice to companies wishing to export their free-from products into the UK – and vice versa. The first exhibition of Free-From Food was a great success for exhibitors and visitors alike. The trade show attracted a high quality audience from some of Europe’s top retail and food service companies. This year we have a huge variety of world famous brands exhibiting and supporting our event. We are expecting hundreds of delegates from across Europe, indicating the importance of this fast growing sector.

Free From Food Expo 2014 is Europe’s most wanted and focused trade show for, and initiated by, the ‘free-from’ Industry. It’s a key trading platform where top-level decision makers come to source new products, meet new and existing suppliers and keep up-to-date with trends and innovations in the fast growing ‘free from food and beverage’ industry.

This two day exhibition and conference will see more than 2,000 buyers and specifiers from small and large retail and food service sectors as well as bio, health, convenience stores and catering companies and nearly 150 exhibitors from across Europe including; ‘free-from’ food (and ‘free from’ ingredients) manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and traders.

Free From Food 2014 is supported by the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS), an independent, non-profit organisation aiming to raise awareness of coeliac disease and to promote research into the diagnosis and management of this illness.

This year, to recognise the growing importance of ‘free from’ food and ingredients, the organisers are also launching the Free From Food Ingredients 2014 Expo.

Free from food categories cover all food and beverage products which are gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, wheat-free, egg-free, GM-free, sugar & fat-free and vegan.

This year’s exhibitors include: ABS Food, Allergenen Consultancy, Allergy Service Suisse, Bauckhof, Dohler, Dove’s Farm, Dutch Spices, Ernst Bocker, Farmo, Fria, Genius Gluten Free, Hi-Food Ingredients, Nestle, Nielsen, Orgran, Semper, Warburtons.

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