The free from packaged food category historically benefited from the increasing trend towards healthy nutrition and sustainable consumption, and recorded accelerated growth with the emergence of the pandemic. With at-home eating occasions remaining heightened, especially during the early 2021 lockdown period, and consumers looking for more sustainable and healthy products, the category managed not only to retain last year’s sales, but see further expansion.
The accelerating trend towards plant-based and flexitarian diets, in combination with the increasing variety of options in the market, boosted the demand for free from meat packaged food categories in 2021. The dynamic performance of these categories has attracted more players and has driven further innovation, although Marlow Foods maintained its lead in free from meat with the Quorn brand in 2021.
Meeting the expectations of vegan, lactose intolerant and allergic consumers, or consumers adopting a flexitarian diet for health or environmental reasons, awareness around the plant-based character of margarine has risen, and some consumers favoured this product over butter in 2021. With a lot of time spent baking and home cooking due to the pandemic, consumers increased their use of fats in the kitchen, and with the health trend, were willing to switch to a plant-based alternative either fully or partly, and are now sticking to the habit of swapping from butter to plant-based margarine.
Free from packaged food is set to record one of the most dynamic growth rates in the industry, due to tapping into the accelerating trend towards plant-based diets. Ethical considerations in combination with health concerns have increasingly rendered consumers more willing to pay a price premium for products that appear to be better for the environment and health.
Free from meat packaged food is set to remain by far the most dynamic category, seeing robust year on year current value growth through the entire forecast period. Demand will be driven by the increasing vegan/vegetarian trend, but also by flexitarians and consumers who are curious to experiment with new flavours.
In light of the accelerating trend towards conscious consumption, dairy players are projected to further invest in plant-based variants, with margarine players focusing on changing consumers’ perceptions about spreads. Mainly based on plant-based ingredients, margarine recipes and positioning can easily be tailored to fit the thriving plant-based trend in dairy.
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This category includes free from gluten, free from lactose, free from allergens, free from dairy and free from meat products. This excludes foods which are certified ‘free’ of a specific product when this is based on use of sterilised equipment.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Food Intolerance research and analysis database.
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