“Free From” Food Movement: Driving Growth in Health and Wellness Space

Strategy Briefing

About This Report

Sep 2017

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” Food Movement: Driving Growth in Health and Wellness Space

Growing demand for free from foods

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.

Developed countries dominate the free from space

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.

Free from dairy milk alternatives - the bright star but the gluten free offering grows more

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.

M&A activity and new product developments are strong in the free from space

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.


Objectives of the global briefing
Key findings

Global Market Insight

The free from trend emerges strongly
Free from - undisputed winner at global level
Free from dairy and free from gluten show the largest potential
Key features boosting growth of free form ranges
Bright future for free from products
Lactose intolerance in Chinese boosts free from performance
Western Europe and North America moving beyond intolerance
Middle East and Africa and Latin America following in the footsteps

Free From Dairy

Milk alternatives stand out in the free from dairy space
Consumers moving away from milk
Other milk alternatives outgrows soy milk
Almond and coconut milk, the favourites
Dairy milk loses popularity benefiting plant based alternatives
The health-conscious consumer is the key target
China accounts for three quarters of the global market
Walnut milk catapulted Yangyuan to stardom
DanoneWave to compete in the free from dairy space
Moroccans shifting to dairy free alternatives
Canada and Israel showing business opportunities
Going beyond free from dairy milk alternatives
Dairy products to get their status back

Free From Gluten

High protein diets indirectly benefited success of gluten free
Gluten-free variants to take bread back to consumers’ tables
Gluten-free variants add value to high carb foods
Developed markets stand out in gluten-free space, along with Brazil
Pinnacle Foods leads after Boulder Brands acquisition in the US
British estimated to spend 3.7 times more than Americans
M&A activity and portfolio expansion key to success
Key players continue including gluten-free options
Ancient grains to drive innovation in the gluten-free space
Ancient grains moving into on-the-go offering
Legume- and “veggie”- based offerings are the way forward
Investments in gluten-free ranges pay off

Key Recommendations

Key recommendations


Health and wellness product coverage
Health and wellness category definitions

Appendix: Competitor Analytics

Competitor Analytics tool
Market Overlap
Overlap Matrices

Appendix: Industry Forecast Model

About Euromonitor International’s Industry Forecast Model
Soft drivers and the Industry Forecast Model
Growth decomposition explained
Significance and applications for growth decomposition
Key applications for Industry Forecast Models