The free-from market continues to enjoy a surge in popularity, with consumers increasingly embracing eco-friendly and free-from alternatives. In 2020, free from values sales increased by 16.9% to break the GBP1bn ceiling. This growth continued throughout 2021, with early reports showing demand soaring by 19.6% (GBP496.1m). It is against this backdrop, that Free from Functional Food & Health Ingredients (FFF&HI) returns to the Fira, Barcelona from 7-8 June 2022. The event, which bills itself as the ultimate free-from, organic and vegan experience, is anticipated to host more than 320 exhibitors showcasing thousands of innovative products and brands, from over 53 countries globally. Registration for the 2022 event in Barcelona is now open.
Since the start of the pandemic, the functional food industry has gone from strength to strength, with consumers across the world seeking out products that deliver wellbeing benefits and support their immune systems. According to ShelfNow, the business-to-business online marketplace, there has been a spike in sales of probiotics, gut-friendly drinks and fermented products, with growth expected throughout 2022 with the shift towards the more health-conscious consumer. Figures from Data Bridge Market Research back this up, with the latest reports predicting market growth at a CAGR of 6.70% in the forecast period of 2022-2029.
The picture in the plant-based sector is much the same, with consumers continuing to search for products that offer healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. Research by Mintel revealed that 25% of young millennials say that the pandemic has made a vegan diet more appealing, with half of those surveyed believing plant/botanical-based ingredients can have medicinal benefits. As a result, brands are seeking the best possible ingredients to add a point of difference to their products.
This year’s FFF&HI will provide brands, retailers and food manufacturers with a one-stop-shop for all their free-from, functional food and health ingredient needs, with the likes of Alifarma, Muesli-Up, DCS Free From, Dafco, and Airos Gluten-Free showcasing the very best products and latest innovations from within these sectors. Brands and ingredients will also be on show by location. The event’s country pavilions will capture the trends and innovations showcased by suppliers, spanning Austria, Bolivia, Chile, Finland, Denmark, Sicily, Thailand, Korea and more.
Alongside a stellar line-up of exhibitors will be a dedicated Conference program, featuring academics, researchers, and consultants from across the functional food and health ingredients industry. Divided into three streams – including Free From Retail, Vegan and Plant-Based and Supplier and Insight – attendees can gain insights into current hot topics such as sustainable packaging, start-up branding, healthy bakery ingredients, consumer behaviors post-pandemic and more.
The Conference is expected to draw visitors from within the sector, eager to explore how they can add a crucial point of difference to their business. With a full line-up set to be announced, early speaker confirmations include representatives from Innova Market Insights, HRA Global, Lantern, University of Barcelona, Spanish industry association AECOC, and Union Vegetariana Spain.
Speaking about this year’s event, Ronald Holman, Event Director, said: “Industry research shows that the sector is well and truly booming thanks to greater consumer concern about health and wellbeing post-COVID, so we are excited to help our visitors and exhibitors capitalise on this. There will be lots of networking opportunities enabling those within the industry to reconnect and make new contacts, as well as vast learning opportunities through our popular conference. This year’s event is sure to be the best yet, enabling top professionals in the industry to engage and plan for the future as we emerge from the depths of the pandemic.”