Free from, unstoppable growth


I ‘

free from

‘, that is, products that boast theabsence of certain ingredients or substances

, continue double-digit growth. The convergence of data coming from market surveys (Observatory I guess) and demographics (Eurispes) induces some brief reflections on these trend of consumption.

Palm Free’



, an ethical issue


palm oil

e ‘


‘, as seen

, are the guarantees most demanded by consumAtors in Europe. Those who pull aside, refusing to contribute their purchasing choices in any way to:

– globalization of exploitation (land robbery, deforestation, slavery) of which palm oil

is emblematic of,

– global monopoly on seeds

and pesticides, well expressed by the phenomenon of GMOs

and ‘new GMOs’ (NBT

). (1)

European ConsumAtors thus express an ethics-driven determination-which finds in us its first supporters-to structural change in the agribusiness supply chain. We are finally beginning to realize that we are the real master of the market.

We all, the collective of consumers, we can force substantial changes in supply, in an ethical direction, through our daily purchasing choices. Exerting pressure from below

which is ‘invincible, if underestimated, and finds synthesis in Leonardo Becchetti’s ingenious motto #iovotocolportfolio



e ‘


, expectations and illusions of health

I claimgluten-freee ‘lactose-free closely followed by the ‘without palm oil‘ e ‘GMO-free‘, in the European ranking of ‘free from‘. And they continue to drive sales in Italy beyond all reasonable expectations and logical significance. Also in 2018, as in 2017. A 3.3 billion turnover – 13.6 percent of total FMCG prepacked food sales – between June 2017 and June 2018.

The Immagino Observatory (GS1-Nielsen) notes that ”Overall, food products aimed at those intolerant to lactose or gluten (excluding water and alcohol) came close to the 8 thousand mark, thanks to 1,946 new products on whose packaging appeared claims referring to the absence of gluten or lactose. Thus, today 13 percent of the nearly 61,000 products in the Immagino Observatory specifically target those who suffer from food intolerances, diagnosed or presumed, and also those who, despite not having established intolerances, decide to follow this dietary regimen‘.

The Eurispes Italy 2019 report in turn points to a real ‘boom in specialty products,’ even among those who do not suffer from intolerances. And this is where the rub falls, where ‘one in five Italians (19.3%) buy gluten-free products, however, only 6.4% have been diagnosed with intolerance, while 12.9% take them without being intolerant.’

The demographic survey confirms the finding of the market survey, adding a troubling clue that also deserves consideration by the Ministry of Health.

Ninety-six percent of the self-styled ‘intolerant diagnosticians’ are ‘imaginary sufferers’ and/or victims of ‘gurus’ who abuse the medical profession. 6.4 percent of those surveyed by Eurispes in fact claim to have been diagnosed with an intolerance, but diagnoses of celiac disease ascertained by health authorities using scientific methods now concern only 0.34 percent of the population in Italy. (2)

The ‘lactose free’ phenomenon seems to be following in the wake of ‘gluten free,’ as more than 1 in 4 consumers (26 percent of those surveyed by Eurispes) claim to buy ‘lactose free‘ foods but only 8.5 percent claim to have been diagnosed with an intolerance. And of these, how many will be ‘imaginary sick people’ and how many will have undergone reliable medical tests instead?

Gluten-free, celiac disease vs. ‘
Viral Deception

AIC, the Italian Celiac Association, has been involved in protecting celiacs in Italy for decades. Also devoting substantial resources to public information and education, in agreement with the Ministry of Health. With the aim of clarifying that:

– ‘

after certified diagnosis, the only therapeutic prescription for celiac disease is a strictly gluten-free diet’

. The National Health System (NHS) provides a free monthly subsidy for the purchase of gluten-free foods listed in theappropriate registry Of the Ministry of Health as they are specifically formulated for people with celiac disease, (3)

– the gluten-free diet is not a fad, and has no meaning for those who have not been medically diagnosed with intolerance to that protein, or allergies to the specific grains that contain it.

Nevertheless, sales

of foods presented as ‘

gluten free

‘ have increased by 2.6 percent. While those of products certified with AIC’s trademark, the ‘spiga barrata,’ declined (-1.5 percent), which is attributed to the decline in demand for some product categories (e.g., functional yogurt, homogenized products). As well as competition from other certification schemes, with similar content, brought forward by the various certification bodies to which operators already turn for other needs (e.g., the ISO 9001

, ISO 22000


1 in 5 Italians anyway regularly buys gluten-free products, spending extra money on foods that have no advantage-neither qualitative nor nutritional-than traditional foods. All thanks to the ‘Viral Deception by Big Food, which has led the consumer planet to believe that ‘gluten free’ is good for health. False! (4)

Free of yeast, salt and added sugar. New

The extraordinary
of the free from then reveals new rising stars in the Italian market:

yeast-free. 18.6 percent of Italian consumers buy yeast-free baked goods (although only 4.6 percent say they have a recognized intolerance),

without added sugars


without salt


Dario Dongo


(1) Recall how the europalmamentari serving Ferrero and Big Food (including a gubernatorial candidate for the Piedmont region, Alberto Cirio) had clumsily attempted to impose a ban on the claims ‘without palm oil‘ e ‘GMO-free‘. Cf.

(2) Celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the population. The Ministry of Health, in its Annual Report on celiac disease submitted to Parliament in January 2019, reports 206,561 diagnoses of celiac disease in Italy (145,759 females and 60,802 males), accounting for 0.34% of the resident population

(3) In 2017, with the revision of the Essential Levels of Care (LEAs), celiac disease was included among the chronic disabling diseases. In 2017, the National Health System devoted about €250 million to providing celiacs with gluten-free products (€1200 per patient per year). The free supply of gluten-free foods, however, varies widely from region to region, and this unevenness, explains the Ministry of Health, ‘in addition to creating unequal treatment for those with celiac disease, actually prevents the free competition that would instead allow a physiological reduction in prices

(4) Harvard University documented, in a 2017 study, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in individuals on a gluten-free diet (see The University of Copenhagen has in turn shown-in 6 years of clinical studies-the alteration of the microbiome in the gut and its functional capacity associated with diet ‘

low gluten