12 December 2023: The Free From Food Expo celebrated its triumphant return to Amsterdam, marking the event's eleventh edition. After the Official Opening Ceremony by Mrs. Pina Alivernini, Commercial Attaché of the Embassy of Italy in the Netherlands, this leading innovation platform for the free-from, organic, vegan, functional, and ingredient food industries drew in thousands of influential decision-makers from top global retailers and food manufacturers.
Against the backdrop of a rapidly growing functional food industry, valued at USD$186.22 billion in 2023 and projected to maintain a CAGR of 2.71% through 2028, the RAI Amsterdam buzzed with activity. Key players from major retailers such as Albert Heijn, Lidl, Jumbo, COOP, Aldi, Spar, Carrefour, Dekamarkt, and others explored the latest product innovations and future trends shaping the industry, with over 4,150 visitors from 58 countries. Attendees expressed their delight at reconnecting, exchanging ideas, and advancing the industry collectively.
This year marked a significant milestone with the concurrent hosting of the Captain of the Category event on November 21st. Presented by FoodPersonality and the Trade Marketing Association (TMA), this event aimed to acknowledge top-tier suppliers in the retail sector. Participants engaged in enlightening Innovation Tours, attended thought-provoking conference presentations, and took part in lively networking sessions. Furthermore, Free From Food 2023, in collaboration with Foodlog, highlighted remarkable innovations in the health ingredients domain through the Healthy Innovation Awards. The event concluded with a prestigious awards ceremony on November 21, celebrating excellence in the industry.
According to Food Ingredients First, key themes at Free From Food Amsterdam 2023 included healthy, clean label, plant-based and natural. Christine von Brunn, product manager of health at Döhler, mentioned that “Nature is our best supplier. This is the motto for everything from our products, whether natural flavors, natural sweetening solutions, or natural superheroes.” Mellifera from Bulgaria, on the other hand, developed a sports nutrition product based on honey: organic honey energy gel, which is a healthier alternative to sports nutrition and energy gels.
Delegates delved into industry trends through conference sessions categorized into Free From Retail, Vegan & Plant-Based, and Supplier & Insights streams. More than 60 expert speakers, including NielsenIQ, ProVeg International, Wageningen University & Research, Euromonitor International, and FMCG Gurus, provided insights into the latest research, analysis, and trends.
Sessions at the Free From Retail Conference, including presentations about circular packaging as well as extensive market analyses, attracted significant interest. The Vegan & Plant-Based Theatre explored the challenges and opportunities of the plant-based market, while the Supplier & Insights presentations covered a diversity of topics, ranging from gluten-free subjects to a start-up pitch event.
The Awards ceremony highlighted outstanding contributions to the industry. Ecuadorian plant extract pioneer Nunalabs claimed the Best New Brand Award, while Dutch gluten-free manufacturer Smaakspecialist won Product of the Year for its Consenza Glutenfree Breakfast kit. Kombucha Rudy’s received the Newcomer of the Year award, and Pasta Nature Gluten Free secured Most Innovative Italian Free From Product Award.
Ronald Holman, the event director, expressed overwhelming satisfaction with this year's exhibition. He commended the positive atmosphere, successful business interactions, and the vibrancy that permeated the industry. Plans for the next event in Amsterdam, Free From Food & Ingredients: A natural & healthy food exhibition, scheduled for November 5-6, 2024, are already underway, with 65% of the exhibition space already re-booked.
For further details on Free From Food, returning to the RAI Amsterdam in November 2024, visit https://amsterdam.freefromfoodexpo.com/.