The consumption of free from dairy and gluten foods has moved beyond nutritional needs related to intolerances or allergies. Many consumers identify these products as healthier for them than the regular offerings, consolidating free from foods as one of the key growth drivers in the health and wellness space. This report gives an overview of the global “free from” food industry, exploring main trends, key growth areas and challenges in the free from dairy and free from gluten spaces.
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Free from foods, valued at USD33 billion at a global level in 2016, still represent a small part of the health and wellness market, but has consolidated as the category with the most dynamic growth in this space during the review period. The consumption of these products have moved beyond intolerances and allergies and the health-conscious consumer, those concerned about sustainability issues as well as the ones that enjoy the taste will contribute to the shiny future estimated for the free from offering in the coming years.
Consumers in more economically developed geographies, mainly North America and Western Europe, are increasingly demanding free from foods, accounting for the majority of the global market. However, emerging countries are following suit and countries such as Chile, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco show growth potential in the free from arena.
The increasing demand for dairy milk alternatives have made this offering the largest in the free from industry. Although soy milk was the most popular alternative a few years ago, other dairy alternatives have already overcome retail value sales, with almond and coconut ranges being listed as the most popular by consumers. In addition, gluten free products have proved very successful, showing the largest growth in the review period. High carb foods such as bread and pasta, not performing well in their regular versions, have shown great success when they are gluten free, as they are perceived healthier by consumers.
As consumer desire for free from ranges grows, manufacturers respond and key players are increasingly investing in the this space. Danone acquiring WhiteWave, which is behind brands including Silk and Alpro, and Pinnacle Foods acquiring gluten free specialist Boulder Brands are only a couple of examples that show the huge interest in the free from space. In addition, key players are working strongly in developing new products to compete in the field, looking for naturally free from ingredients, high nutritional value and functionality.