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Healthy - But Tasty Please!
By Dr Sylvia Pfaff, FIS Europe
Tuesday, 4th February 2014
 

The Free From food market has been booming for some time; for the United Kingdom alone, market research company Mintel estimates a turnover of approximately 600 million Euros (519 million pounds) in 2016.

This represents an 80 % growth for today's market where lactose-free products account for 47 %, gluten-free foods for 45 % and other free-from foodstuffs for 8 %. Increasing demand for additional tasty products is gathering momentum in this segment.

Not every consumer can buy “normal” foodstuffs. People with food intolerance or allergy only have the option to give up these foods. For this reason, an interesting market demand for Free From food products has developed.
 
Among the latter, the best known are probably lactose-free and gluten-free products, although of interest are also dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and soy-free groceries, just to name a few. However, these products have not been legally defined yet, which is why every manufacturer has set its own standards.
 
Due diligence of the manufacturer > For this purpose, the manufacturer must figure out when the product is really “free of”. In contrast to the clear definition of “gluten-free”, according to which a product may bear this term if its gluten content does not exceed 20 mg/kg in the food as sold to the final consumer (regulation (EC) no. 41/2009), other markings are not defined by law.

According to a position paper by GDCh (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, German Chemical Society) from 2005, products may be labeled as “lactose-free” if their content of lactose and/or lactose degradation products is less than 10 mg/100 g or ml of the ready-to-eat foodstuff.
 
By derogation from this value, some companies were granted temporary exemptions from the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection at their request, in accordance with section 4 of the Milk and Margarine Act, to manufacture certain lactose-free dairy products.

Unlike under the current manufacturing requirements,  these companies can use lactase and thus manufacture “lactose-free” milk products by splitting up lactose into glucose and galactose.
 
The exemptions are, however, subject to further restrictions; hence, the use of lactase must be specified in the list of ingredients and the lactose content be less than 0.1 g per 100 g or 100 ml of product.

In addition, this lactose content must also be marked on the product. These exemptions are only valid for those companies that have applied for them, and only for the products mentioned in the exemption. Basically, the manufacturer should set even lower contaminants for other Free From foodstuffs. With regard to this, great manufacturing diligence must be observed.
 
Potential and health > Recent market research shows that not only affected consumers choose Free From food. If a family member is affected, the whole family will eat these foodstuffs. Firstly, they do not want to cause the person concerned any suffering.

In addition, a stronger health movement is emerging, as many of the “free of” products are already manufactured with organic ingredients, thereby making them generally appealing to the health-conscious consumer.
 
A further aspect is the fact that the person concerned does not feel sick. They are doing very well if they can avoid the triggering foodstuffs.

For this reason, they want to rely on the same selection and quality of food which can be bought by others as well. Therefore, they expect more and more in other areas (e. g. company canteens, kindergartens, schools and restaurants) to be supplied with these products. Already one out of 10 citizens in Germany eats no meat. The oldest version of the Free From food: meat-free.

Although this type of diet is not always accompanied by a necessary renunciation for health reasons, but results rather from an attitude towards food production. This potential was recognized by the Freiburg Food Trade Fair on 4–5th June 2013. With 932 visitors, 118 exhibitors from over 15 countries and an excellent response to the specialists’ convention accompanying the exhibition, the new trade fair was well received.

FreeFromFood Expo BrusselsGluten and lactose intolerance or conscious choices for a healthy lifestyle: Free From products are on everyone’s lips.

For two days, executives and buyers from the food retail, the natural and health food sector, the catering trade as well as the out-of-house market had the opportunity to intensely exchange views at the Free From Food Expo in Freiburg.
 
For further information, please contact:
Dr Sylvia Pfaff, FIS Europe,
Bahnhofstraße 10, 48455 Bad Bentheim, Germany
Telephone: +49 5922 904003
fis-buero@web.de, www.fis-europe.net

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