Bord Bia and 7 Irish companies exhibited at the 4th edition of the Free From Food Expo, held in Amsterdam’s RAI on the 9-10th June. The Expo is the only B2B free-from trading and networking platform in Europe.

The expo welcomed over 250 exhibitors from over 25 countries producing products in all free-from categories. The event attracted visitors from around the globe who came to meet the trade exhibitors and listen to conference speakers. During the two-day expo, the event featured a Free-From Food Conference, a Lactose-Free Conference and the European Food Blogger Convention with over 60 talks from industry professionals.

The Free-From category has moved from being a medical necessity to a lifestyle choice. From the expo it is clear that both people suffering with allergies and those with mild intolerances are now being catered for in retail with a wide variety of high quality foods. Since the product offerings have increased significantly in recent years, the market has opened up and has moved into mainstream. New research from Mintel reveals that UK sales of free-from foods are forecast to grow 13% to reach £531 million in 2016 and grow by a further 43% by 2020. There should only be a limited market size of actual or suspected allergy or intolerance sufferers but the ‘health halo’ offered by free-from foods has become a key driver in succeeding to build a much larger group of consumers. Within Ireland, between 2009 and 2014 there was a 60% increase in the value of the all-Ireland free-from food and drink market, growing from €29.1m to €46.5m in 2014 (Mintel).

Heading the Free-From category is Gluten-Free. According to HRA (Hamish Renton Associates) who spoke at the Free-From Food Conference, GF products account for around a quarter of food intolerance sales today and 0.1% of all packaged food sales globally. The global GF market is worth some €1.8bn, while the GF market in the UK is currently valued at £210m – making the UK third in sales after the US and Italy. Of the 10% of the UK population cutting down on gluten, 2/3 do not have a sensitivity to it i.e. lifestylers.

David Jago, Director of Innovation & Insight at Mintel, also spoke at the Free-From Food Conference about ‘Gluten Free, Where Next?’. Jago states that GF touches 1 in 10 consumers in some European markets while interest and consumption peaks among Millennials: Reaching 11% of German consumers aged 16-24 years, 13% of Italians in the same age group, and 18% of 16-34 year olds in the UK.

Innovation was proven to be top of mind for Irish food companies at the expo. The 2016 Innovation prize was awarded to Irish company Virgina Foods for a product in their Helen’s Food brand.

For more information please contact

Source: Bord Bia – Free From Expo – Amsterdam