In 2020, free from packaged food has maintained dynamic retail current value growth, seeing even higher growth than in the previous two years. Although sales have been growing strongly for years, the higher increase in 2020 is likely to have been due to rising health-consciousness in light of COVID-19.
Strong innovation has been seen within free from gluten pasta, which is now not only targeted to coeliac consumers, who account for around 1% of the population in Italy, but to a wider audience, including vegetarians, vegans, sportspersons and those who are curious and willing to experiment with a new product offer. Initially produced based mainly on corn and rice flour, free from gluten pasta is currently witnessing a revival thanks to innovative use of pulses in its production.
Free from lactose has remained the largest category within free from packaged food in current value terms in 2020, and has seen dynamic double-digit growth from an already high base. Free from lactose dairy accounts for most sales, mainly milk, cream and cheese.
After a year of strong current value growth in 2020, free from packaged food is set to see a slight slowdown in its growth rate from 2021, but increases will remain dynamic. Free from meat is the only category expected to see much higher growth in the forecast period than in the review period, with innovation in meat substitutes moving to the next level.
Free from gluten pasta is no longer a niche product from specialised players, but is being produced by almost all the main players in the conventional pasta competitive landscape, such as Barilla, De Cecco, Garofalo, Rummo, Misura and others. An interesting example is Andriani, which is very active within the free from gluten segment with its brand Felicia.
Free from dairy ice cream is set to see above-average growth moving forward, with an acceleration of its growth rate over the course of the forecast period. This category is still led by Valsoia, thanks to its portfolio of over 20 free from references.
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