‘Free-from is the most promising trend in LATAM’: Euromonitor

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image © Euromonitor International. Used with permission
Image © Euromonitor International. Used with permission
Gluten-free and lactose-free are two of the leading growth categories in the evolving free-from category in Brazil, with ‘free-from’ also tipped as the most promising trend across the whole region, according to Euromonitor International.

Global growth in free-from and organic continue to lead the way in terms of growth, with just under 6% YoY growth for organic, and over 3.5% growth YoY for free-from. Both will have annual growth rates of about 5% by 2022, said Euromonitor. The data was presented by Maria Mascaraque, Food and Nutrition Consultant at Euromonitor International​ at the recent Bio Brazil Fair​. 

The highest growth rate categories in Latin America are being seen for free-from, with Mexico and Chile leading the charge (see image above). Argentina, Peru, and Brazil are also seeing significant growth.

Focusing on free-from in Brazil, the clear leader is gluten-free bread (see figure below). Lactose-free also remains a significant category, but alternatives to soy are declining.

Chile is enjoying significant growth in other categories, notably “better for you” and “naturally healthy”, said Euromonitor.

“Being natural is consumers’ first priority which helps explain why free from and organic packaged food continue to lead the way in the health and wellness space,”​ said Mascaraque.

“Consumers are seeking functionality in the food they consume, but only if it comes through natural ingredients. They are demanding greater transparency and simplicity in the foods they eat as well as seeking plant based alternatives that are perceived as more natural and healthier.”


Organic remains small in Latin America, but there are green shoots of growth in various markets. For example, Chile recently introduced an organic label to comply with EU norms​.

In addition, food giant Nestlé launched its first organic products in Brazil in the spring. The products – gluten-free oat bran and oat flakes – are available in stores across the São Paulo state, with distribution in other regions in Brazil coming later this year.

The company announced plans to invest in the development of large-scale organic milk production in the country last year. According to Nestlé Brazil, the oat launch was just the beginning of organic product development in the country​.

Euromonitor Free from 1
© Euromonitor International. Used with permission

Trends across the globe

During the presentation at Bio Brazil Fair​, Euromonitor also looked at the global picture. North America and Asia Pacific are the largest market in terms of health and wellness packaged food sales in 2017. However, the majority of the growth between 2012 and 2017 came from Asia Pacific and Middle East and Africa. Conversely, the lowest growth rates were seen in Eastern Europe.

Sales of “free-from” packaged food items are increasing in all regions, except Asia Pacific, said the market researcher. China is responsible for the regional “free from” slowdown in sales.

The global fortified and functional food and beverage market is valued at US$ 160bn, while naturally healthy is valued at US$ 103bn. The global “free-from” market is US$ 36bn, while organic was worth US$ 35bn, said the market researcher.


Data from the Euromonitor International Global Consumer Trends Survey 2017 (n = 28,487) shows that “all natural” is the leading preferred food attribute, closely followed by “no artificial sweeteners”, “limited or no added sugar”, and “does not contain GMO ingredients”.

For Latin American consumers, “natural” was most often associated with “no artificial colorings or flavorings” and “is chemical free”.

For more information and to download the presentation, please click HERE​.  

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