Marc Warde focuses on free-from at Taste of Travel, WTCE

March 27, 2019

Marc Warde is an experienced caterer, restauranteur and food manufacturer and owns London’s award-winning Niche|Gluten Free Dining. He consults on free-from products for the travel sector for airlines and food manufacturers and heads up Libero Special Meals, Bare Food and launching this year, Bare Travels. He will present a selection of meat-free, gluten-free and allergy-friendly meals at the Taste of Travel Theatre from 10.30 on Thursday 6 April. Here we preview his views on free-from demand.

Tell us about the demand for free-from foods?
The growth of the free-from market has been exponential. Consumers are more knowledgeable about intolerances and low FODMAP diets, dairy free, soya free and gluten free are all seeing marked growth. More than 50% of the population worldwide are vegetarian and we’ve had to increase our offer in those areas by 50%.

What’s driving this trend?
Consumers are more aware about what food does to the body and they want to eat healthily and live longer. Many are finding that eating free from food makes them feel better, for example, those who eat gluten free to reduce uncomfortable bloating.

How is the travel sector responding?
Traditionally the free-from offering on airlines has been poor. Even now, there is often just one option, such as popcorn, which is naturally gluten-free anyway.

Ligation is also a key concern for airlines, which I believe has prevented them from certifying foods as free-from. This means meals carry the caveat ‘may contain’ and then list an allergen, such as gluten, making it difficult for coeliac passengers because there is no guarantee that a meal is free from.

Is ingredient development helping?
The free-from ingredients market is growing quickly. We are seeing the emergence of more alternative proteins, flours and natural stabilisers, which are enabling brands and manufacturers to produce free-from foods with a better nutritional and taste profile. In the gluten-free market, for example, manufacturers are focusing on producing free-from breads with moisture, the key element that prevents many gluten-free breads from tasting the same as their regular counterparts. Another example emerging in the mainstream vegan market­­ is the use of chickpea water as an egg white alternative.

How are airlines doing in this area?
The free-from wave is travelling from East to West. Singapore Airlines is a good example of an operator that is working to develop its free-from offering so it can provide passengers with a meal that caters to dietary requirements and still tastes good.

Full details of the Taste of Travel programme here