Sunday, April 30, 2017

Free-From Options at the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo

I attended the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo (GF&AF) for the first time when show organizer Gluten Free Media Group hosted its two-day expo on April 22-23 in Schaumburg, a suburb of Chicago. The consumer show hosted exhibitors representing food companies, beverage companies, retailers, educational resources for individuals with celiac disease such as The Celiac Project who is pictured above as well as education classes. While the major focus of the show was gluten free products, the GF&AF Expo also addressed the growing demand for “Free-From” foods. Global market research company Euromonitor International stated that global sales of Free-from foods and beverages grew by 7 percent in 2016 to reach US$32 billion. Euromonitor defines Free-from as “food products that do not contain ingredients known to cause a reaction for people with food allergies or intolerances.” In this article, I will discuss the eight most common allergens in the U.S. and the allergy friendly positioning of Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC and BFree Foods USA Inc.

The 8 Most Common Allergens in the U.S.

According to the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the following eight foods account for about 90 percent of food allergic reactions in the U.S. To safeguard consumers’ health, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires that food labels identify the food source names of ingredients that fall under the following eight food groups and any ingredient that contains a protein derived from one of the “major food allergens”.

The 8 “major food allergens” are:

1.      Milk

2.      Eggs

3.      Fish (e.g., cod, pollock, salmon, tilapia)

4.      Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)

5.      Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, coconuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts)

6.      Peanuts

7.      Wheat

8.      Soybeans

Every exhibitor at the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo offered signage on tables that identified the eight major food allergens as well as the presence of gluten, corn, yeast, and sesame.

Allergy Friendly Positioning of Enjoy Life and BFree Foods
The market for Free-from and allergy friendly foods is a big one as an estimated 15 million Americans have a food allergy according to data cited by the Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc. An estimated three million Americans have celiac disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many food companies are realizing that they want to reach both consumers who are looking for gluten free products as well as individuals looking to remove common allergens such as dairy, soy, nuts, and eggs from their diets. Among the exhibitors at the GF&AF Expo, Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC and BFree Foods focused on marketing its allergy friendly positioning.

Enjoy Life Foods, a division of Mondelez International, decorated its booth to as Enjoy Life Land, a place where children and adults could enjoy product samples from Cookie Canyon, Allergy Friendly Forest, and Freedom Mountain, among other areas. The company’s tagline is “eat freely”. In addition to being free of all the above mentioned eight major food allergens, the company’s products are also free of casein, sesame, and sulfites.

BFree Foods USA Inc is the U.S. subsidiary of BFree Foods, headquartered in Ireland. BFree’s tagline is “Be Wheat & Gluten Free”. Going beyond gluten free, all of BFree’s products are free of dairy, nuts, eggs, and soy. The line of BFree breads are vegan and contain no added sugar. The company also uses ingredients such as peas, apples, and potatoes to increase the bread’s protein and fiber content.

Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo Coming to Other Cities

The Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo is scheduled to take its traveling expo to other U.S. cities including Atlanta; Glendale, Arizona; and Worcester, Massachusetts. More information can be found at