Plant-based alternatives take centre stage at FFF&HI

Plant-based alternatives take centre stage at FFF&HI

Free From Functional & Health Ingredients returns to Amsterdam from 23-24 November 2021

Over the past 18 months, sustainable food trends have gained traction. Consumers, impacted by food shortages and an overwhelming focus on health and wellbeing, have reassessed their dietary choices and trends that were prevalent before the pandemic have accelerated. There is now increasing awareness of global warming and documentaries, such as David Attenborough’s A Life On Our Planet, have played a critical role in advocating for change.

It’s against this backdrop that Europe’s leading platform for innovation in the free-from industries – Free From Functional & Health Ingredients (FFF&HI) – returns to Amsterdam from 23-24 November 2021. 

Free From trends accelerate in 2020

According to FFF&HI’s research partner Mintel, sales growth in the free-from foods market accelerated in 2020 following a slowdown in 2019[1]. Value sales increased by 16.9% year-on-year to break £1 billion. Sales in the specific free-from market grew to £652 million in 2020, with diary-free and lactose-free sales reaching £455 million. Attributed to the closing of the food service industry, and widespread stock shortages, consumers were forced to change their buying habits, often opting for alternatives to their usual meals – and this shift in consumption is anticipated to result in lasting change.

At this year’s FFF&HI, a host of food and drink suppliers, specialising in free-from products, will ensure international attendees can keep abreast of the latest ingredients and innovative product launches. With six zones covering free-from, ingredients, functional, vegan, organic and natural, and packaging, exhibitors including Döhler Group GmbH, A G Gilro Ltd, BioBandits BV, Cofresh Snack Foods, Feel Good Company ApS, Doves Farm and Pécsi Brewery will showcase the latest products.

Dietary changes see growth in plant-based alternatives

In what was already an emerging trend before the pandemic, a reduction in meat consumption has been propelled by the pandemic. Plant-based alternatives have quickly gained popularity across Europe with 40% of consumers said to have cut back or stopped eating red meat. Further research by The Vegan Society demonstrates a sharp rise in those sampling animal-based alternatives – often choosing to continue with these purchasing habits.

In its report, Changing Diets During the COVID-19 Pandemic[2], The Vegan Society revealed that 20% of consumers had reduced their meat consumption, while 12% had reduced their eggs and dairy intake. Of those cutting back on animal products, 35% were motivated by health concerns, while 30% cited environmental concerns as their primary motivation.[3]

This shift to a plant-based diet is not thought to change anytime soon. The same research revealed that over half of respondents (54%) had purchased a meat-free alternative for the first time, and the majority (78%) would continue to buy them again in the future. This is also the case for plant-based milks: 43% purchased oat milk for the first time, while 30% opted for coconut milk. Similarly, vegan staples such as pulses, including lentils and chickpeas were also on the rise. 

Industry experts come together to discuss emerging trends

Alongside a packed show floor, the event will see a high-level programme of keynote speakers from market research, retail and food service consultancies, brand owners, universities, and food marketing initiatives. A broad range of topics and retail product insights on vegan, plant-based, organic, functional, and shopper marketing trends will feature on the programme, with keynote speakers from Euromonitor International, Kline, Deloitte, and Mintel and more confirmed to speak.

World-leading, independent provider of strategic market research, Euromonitor will be delivering two pre-recorded presentations. The first will focus on ‘The Rise of Vegan and Vegetarian Food’, with a second keynote talk on ‘Plant-based Eating and Alternative Proteins’.

Elsewhere, market research company Kline will host a session on ‘Plant-Based Meat: Processing Alternatives and Ingredients Assessment’. Attendees can gain insights from the first-ever market research report to evaluate the technical challenges and opportunities which are impacting the global supply of plant-based meat. 

Delivering the latest insights into consumer sentiments to plant-based products, Stephanie Jaczniakowska of ProVeg International will present findings of the company’s research spanning 11 different European countries. Hamish Renton of HRA Global will also join the programme to explore the future of plant-based trends.

In addition to the packed schedule of keynote talks and seminars, visitors can arrange tailor-made one-to-one or roundtable networking meetings, secure face-to-face meetings with potential commercial and strategic partners through the event’s international matchmaking programme.

Speaking about this year’s event, Ronald Holman, Event Director, said: “The remarkable growth of plant-based alternatives has resulted in a surge of new product innovations and ingredients. We’re delighted to return to Amsterdam to shine a light once again on the innovation emerging from leading and start-up brands, helping attendees to keep abreast of all of the latest alternative ingredients and new launches coming to market. With five dedicated stages delivering world-class insight and a host of new features, this year’s event will reunite the industry to deliver all new business and learning opportunities.”

The exhibition runs in conjunction with Free From Plastics Packaging which aims to service the food, pharma, cosmetics and luxury markets. This dedicated event focuses on the requirement for sustainable packaging and the latest developments within this arena including biodegradable ad recyclable packaging solutions; alternative eco-friendly packaging as well as carton and paper alternatives.


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