‘Free’ trends take on a multitude of meanings as health and environmental concerns become more prominent.



Nov 24, 2021 — Increasingly, global consumers are seeking to reduce the consumption of certain ingredients that they perceive to have adverse effects on their health or that of the planet. In fact, the environmental impacts of food are guiding purchasing decisions more than ever. As a result, the industry is responding by placing prominent “free of” claims on the front of the package, illustrating how food products are tailored to meet consumer needs.

Free-from is becoming more and more common, overtaking food allergens and intolerances. Although it is always essential to innovate in products for lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc., the generic term “free-from” has taken on many different meanings.

What does free mean to consumers now that / as global health issues are taking hold?

No deforestation, no logging, no palm oil, no capture and no animal ingredients is also part of the storytelling process for brands concerned with showing they understand the intrinsic link between food production and its negative impacts on the environment.

Without expansion
Foods that tick the boxes to be good for you while being good for the planet are taking center stage.

This is in line with Innova Market Insights’ top ten trend for 2022 “Shared Planet”, which highlights how more ethical and environmentally conscious consumers are. Therefore, food brands must work alongside the public to instill confidence in the claims attached to products.

Meanwhile, data from the recent Free From Functional & Health Ingredients (FFF & HI) trade fair in Amsterdam shows how sales growth in product-free markets accelerated in 2020, following a slowdown in 2019. Sales by value grew by 16.9% per year. over one year to exceed US $ 1.3 billion.Ditching dairy products in confectionery is also trendy, as formulators focus on vegan NPD in chocolate and candy.

Sales in the specific non-product market increased to US $ 882.1 million in 2020, with dairy-free and lactose-free sales reaching US $ 615.6 million.

Sugar consumption at the center of health
Despite the increase in global health concerns, health and wellness play a crucial role in open space – and these trends have accelerated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers reorient their choices food to products that boost immunity and hone in on healthier options.

In this context, concerns about sugar consumption and interest in reducing sugar lead to a sophisticated approach to sweetening. Earlier this year, the Ingredient Insider report from Innova Market Insights analyzed trends in sugar reduction and the use of sweeteners in food and beverage applications.

Market research says there is a clear focus on three parallel areas: natural sweeteners, fewer sweeteners and no sweetness.

Innova data also shows the use of a sugar claim in food and beverage launches is increasing globally, growing + 6% year-over-year in comparing the 2019 and 2020 launches.

The main positions of global F&B product launches tracked with a sugar claim in 2020 were No Added Sugar (56%), No Additives / Preservatives (34%) and Gluten Free (32%).

Trends in no and low alcohol
Another alcohol-free trend is emerging as Gen Z leads the charge for alcohol-free lifestyles. As more consumers turn their backs on alcohol (or drastically cut back on alcohol), alcohol-free NPD is hitting shelves, satisfying the demand for sophisticated tastes of non-alcoholic beers and wines by volume measure. .

Kerry recently introduced Botanicals Collection Zero 2.0. This is an improved next-generation line of high-quality, authentic botanical extracts – containing 0% ethanol – specifically designed for the rapidly growing global low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverage industry.Although it is always essential to innovate in products for lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc., the generic term “free-from” has taken on many different meanings.

The taste portfolio allows manufacturers to maintain a low (or zero) alcohol content and allows a “0.0%” claim. Compared to other non-ethanol technologies, the Collection Zero 2.0 range is more stable, cloudless, sedimentation-free, and with a more complex botanical taste and mouthfeel.

Givaudan also recently unveiled its latest research on “Conscious Drinking,” providing manufacturers with essential information on what consumers are looking for in low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages and enabling them to create more engaging experiences.

Igor Parshin, regional head of the company’s beverage category, says the alcohol-free movement can be compared to the popularity of plant-based proteins, with the Swiss house of flavors spurring a change that could be “a victory for consumers and industry ”.

Animal-free / slaughter-free innovation
The vegetal and functional offerings are firmly established in the free-form space.

Plant-based innovation leads in all areas of F&B development. Alternative meat, fish and poultry are gaining traction as consumers want vegan options that are better for themselves and the environment while still tasting good.

At the same time, the cellular space – of meat grown in the laboratory from animal cells without the need for slaughter – is emerging with increasingly close product marketing.

In all likelihood, we are on the verge of seeing hybrid products made in part from plant ingredients mixed with cellular technologies.

What will the labels on the front of the package look like for these cell and plant hybrids?

Recently, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a notice of proposed regulations seeking comment and information regarding the labeling of meat and poultry products made from cultured cells derived from animals. under the jurisdiction of FSIS.

FSIS will use these comments to inform future regulatory requirements for the labeling of these food products.The vegetal and functional offerings are firmly established in the free-form space.

In 2019, the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products made using animal cell culture technology to ensure that these products placed on the market are secure, not adulterated and truthfully labeled.

Dairy free
Ditching dairy products in confectionery is also trendy, as formulators focus on vegan NPD in chocolate and candy. Food innovators are finding sophisticated methods to mimic the creamy textures of chocolate and improve aromatic properties, thus increasing the number of interactions with non-milk chocolate.

Major brands are incorporating milk-free offerings into their portfolios to keep pace with diverse consumer demands for indulgent, dairy-free treats.

Some examples include Nestle’s vegan KitKat, KitKat V, which uses a rice-based formula as a milk substitute, and Lindt’s line of vegan chocolate made with oat milk. Earlier this year, Mars also expanded its line of vegan chocolates with Bounty Vegan and Topic Vegan in the UK.

Chocolate and cocoa giant Barry Callebaut recently launched a 100% dairy-free and plant-based chocolate solution for the sweet snack category, dairy-free compounds. This new product innovation joins Barry Callebaut’s North American Plantcraft line of non-dairy chocolates, nuts, cocoa powders and dairy-free ingredients.

It’s even made in completely separate production facilities that don’t process dairy. Applications for these dairy-free and plant-based solutions include confectionery, ice cream, baking, and snacks.

And after?
Free-from will still be anchored in label cleaning, but it remains to be seen precisely what that might mean in terms of future front-of-package claims. While rooted in the fight against allergies, intolerances, and offering private label products, the specifics of what a product might be ‘free’ will evolve to include more specific concerns about sustainability and sustainability. environment while focusing even more on health.

By Gaynor Selby

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