By Kimberly Kawa
The Schaumburg Convention Center was a bustling place to be for the Gluten Free Allergen Friendly Expo (GFAF Expo) on Saturday, April 7. Many pioneer brands and retailers in the food-allergen-conscious space, from Enjoy Life to Fruitful Yield, sponsored the event. The products on display with allergy-conscious vendors sported the ingredient exclusion claims one would expect to see in such an environment, but this year’s showcase also highlighted health focuses such as brain health, digestive support, pain and inflammation, weight management as well as functional ingredients like protein, collagen, and probiotics.
Gluten is a glue-like protein found in the endosperm of certain grain seeds, which is what ends up being ground into flour and incorporated in so many common foods. Individuals with gluten sensitivity, and particularly those with celiac disease, attempt to avoid this gluten protein, which produces inflammatory and immune responses as it breaks down during digestion. Unaddressed, this can lead to nutrient deficiency, as the body cannot properly absorb nutrients with this inflammatory response.
SPINS data sheds light on the marketplace performance of gluten-free and other ingredient labeling trends. Across SPINS retail channels, sales are up 3.1% (to $37.2 billion) on packaged food and beverage products that are labeled gluten-free across frozen, refrigerated, and shelf-stable departments. Items that are labeled gluten-free as well as labeled allergy-friendly (free of the top eight most common allergens) show even more growth at 15.2%. Other label claims on the rise in combination with gluten-free labeling include certified organic 95-100% (up 6.7%), vegan labeling (up 16.3%), and grain-free labeling (up 104.7%).
With these market trends in mind, I found several outstanding products at GFAF Expo, selected for appeal across consumer ways of eating as well as convenience, taste, nutrition profile, and ingredient transparency.
Frozen Plant-Based Entrees and Breakfast Options
Gluten-free and nutrient-dense attributes are increasingly more prevalent in the frozen aisle. Path of Life sampled its frozen quinoa side dishes and recommended pairing them with eggs for a satisfying breakfast. These gluten-free, non-GMO, and organic creations are packaged in steamable bags. A slew of healthy ingredient additions differentiates these items from other frozen blends, along with popular flavors like Asian-Style, Kale, Mediterranean, and Southwest.
Kitchfix sets the bar high with its grain-free and nut-free waffles in Banana Cinnamon, Blueberry Maple, and Original. Made with simple, clean ingredients like cassava and coconut flours, the texture is spot on. These waffles are also Certified Paleo and Non-GMO Project Verified, with gluten-free certification by GFCO still in progress.
Mozaics Organic Popped Veggie & Potato Chips are produced in a peanut-free and tree-nut-free facility, as well as being Certified Gluten-Free by GFCO and certified organic. The simple and clean ingredient list incorporates legumes and potato with extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt for its Sea Salt chips, with additional BBQ, Cheddar, Sour Cream & Onion, and Salsa flavor options.
Made Good, a Certified B Corporation, produces certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified products in a facility that the brand states is free of the top eight allergens. Its Granola Bars and Granola Minis include “hidden” veggie extracts of beets, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Flavors include Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Banana, Chocolate Chip, Mixed Berry, and Strawberry. Rice-based Crispy Squares in Vanilla and Chocolate are the brand’s latest SKUs; trends in this product set include organic content, specialty rice, and functional ingredient boosts.
Shelf-Stable and Refrigerated Meal Options
Isola’s Organic Potato Gnocchi, made with corn and rice flour, is a gluten-free, organic, vegan, and shelf-stable meal option. This specialty product imported from Italy comes in a convenient two-pack that serves two to three people per pack. For gnocchi lovers, the mouthfeel is surprisingly similar to ones made with wheat.
Gluten-free has been popularized through diet trends that feature a low-inflammatory ingredient profile. Green Chef has obtained gluten-free certification from the Gluten Intolerance Group/Gluten-Free Certification Organization’s food service program and offers meal-kit delivery service that sources certified organic ingredients. In fact, the company offers four gluten-free options based on additional diet selections: keto, omnivore, Paleo, or vegan.
Only SPINS’ Product Library’s proprietary attribution can provide you with a granular look at the evolving and nuanced health & wellness trends transforming retail today. Want to know more? Contact your SPINS rep or email [email protected] to dig deeper into data on allergy-friendly, gluten-free, and other consumer ways of eating and hot retail topics affecting your business.
SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet (proprietary), and SPINScan Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI), 52 Weeks Ending 2018-Mar-28.