More vegan foods at international food fair

Alimentaria 2018 following changing dietary trends, with more products on display for non-meat eaters and people with intolerances

Cacaolat “veggie” range on display at Alimentaria 2018 (by Luis Rodríguez)
Cacaolat “veggie” range on display at Alimentaria 2018 (by Luis Rodríguez) / Alex Rolandi, Andrea Zamorano & Nazaret Romero

Alex Rolandi, Andrea Zamorano & Nazaret Romero | Barcelona

April 18, 2018 12:47 PM

Once upon a time, hearing somebody proclaim they were vegan was as shocking as admitting to Satan worship at Sunday mass. But those were different times in a pre-dominantly meat-eating world. Veganism is less of a taboo than way back when in the dark ages, although it might still be frowned upon here and there, mostly at barbeques. In an ever-homogenizing world, however, a city’s “coolness” may even be measured by the number of vegan restaurants within it. Barcelona has 165, according to vegan food directory Happy Cow.

Vegan food has become so mainstream, in fact, that its presence at this year’s Alimentaria food and drink fair has grown substantially. Among the thousands of products on display at this year’s event, there was an increase in vegan-friendly foods, as well as more products for people with intolerances.

Veggie innovations

Catering to vegans is even seen as a niche in the market for some companies. Citrus is one such company. One of their latest products is a fermented yogurt made with no traces of dairy. “It is not a yogurt, it is much more: it is fermented oats,” said sales representative Ramón Lacomba. “We develop oatmeal milk and ferment it without a dairy base, it’s totally vegan,” he said.

According to Lacomba, what supermarkets offer is not satisfactory for vegans. “There is always a special need for vegans in the (supermarket) refrigerated dessert sections,” he said. Citrus is also planning to use “coconut, rice, or other types of cereals” in order to develop more vegan yogurts.

Dairy-free milkshakes

A childhood classic for many people in Catalonia is the chocolate milk drink Cacaolat, produced by the company of the same name. Cacaolat’s head of innovation, Cristina Sánchez, explained how veganism is a “tendency of consumption,” hence the reason why the Barcelona-based company decided on promoting a new “veggie” range.

Cacaolat is now available in vegan-friendly form. Instead of using dairy, the chocolate drink is produced using oak milk.

Chicken fillet, hold the meat

Seeing a market opportunity, the meat company Campofrió has also launched a new product line just for vegans. Called Vegalia, the range consists of, among other products, meatless fillets, as well as ham with no pig and hot dogs with no animal trimmings. 

Another company that’s decided to follow the vegetarian trend is Noel Alimentaria, which revealed new products including vegan snacks such as chickpea crisps.

Gluten morning, lactose free

According to the Celiac Association of Catalonia, there is a bigger tendency for people to eat gluten-free. Elisa Mora, a representative of the organization, said that gluten-free food is more “fashionable,” however she warned of the danger of “banalizing” what it really means to have a “therapeutic diet.”

“There has been a lot of progress, there are many things that are labelled without gluten,” she said. However, celiacs still have problems eating out because of the lack of options. 

The general director of DCS Free From, a company dedicated to products free from allergens, stated how prices of gluten-free products decreased last year. This is because there is a “broader variety” on offer, and “more customers,” explained Paul Agneessens.

Halal there

Also at the Alimentaria fair was an exhibition space dedicated solely to Halal certified foods, following an upward trend not only for Muslims but also for people seeking to eat healthier.

In the Hospitalet de Llobregat exhibition hall, 175 companies displayed halal foods, 25 of which were found in the Halal Food Expo.