International gluten-free fair closes with rallying cry for state aid
BCN Gluten Free Fair welcomed 10,000 attendees through its doors this weekend
The Barcelona Gluten Free Fair, held this weekend, expects a final headcount of more than 10,000 participants coming through its doors over the duration of the festival, a figure that would outperform the previous editions.
Joan Asensio, director of the fair, warned that celiac disease is becoming “increasingly frequent,” and as such the fair was used as a strong standpoint for the Catalan Association of Celiacs to demand the Catalan government to apply a system of financial aid for celiacs already approved by the parliament.
The president of the Catalan Association of Celiacs, José Molina, pointed out that celiacs have an annual cost of 930 euros more than a person without the disease, and has demanded measures to deal with these added costs.
"We help the more than 75,000 celiacs in Catalonia", he said, and explained that the conference offers "a very broad range" of gluten-free products.
In the same vein, a second demand of the association is that the government ensures that celiac pupils are catered for in school canteens, so they may maintain a gluten-free diet. The Association alerted that one celiac person gets sick every week in Catalan schools.
Catalonia in the celiac market
The fair director, Joan Asensio, emphasized that Catalonia plays a central role in the celiac market and pointed out that almost 50% of gluten-free companies in Spain are from Catalonia; 156 of 375.
"We want Barcelona to be the center for gluten-free products and that celiacs can be sure they can come and find new products," he explained. This edition, which is the first to be celebrated in Catalonia after three years away and one edition in Madrid, had more than 100 exhibitors.
Among the new features of the fair this year, Asensio says, is a mobile app that determines if a celiac can consume a food by scanning the barcode, and seasonings with an umami base from a Korean company.
In the framework of the fair, the Celiac Grant of Catalonia has also been awarded a research grant of 8,000 euros for a project on the celiac microbiome presented by the Biomedical Research Institute of Girona Doctor Josep Trueta.
This research raises new hypotheses about celiac pathophysiology in relation to the intestinal microbiome and, as Dr. Xavier Aldeguer said, this would detect the bacteria that would differentiate celiacs from non-celiacs depending on the bacteria present in the feces.