Although it’s a recent trend, the free-from trend is not dominated by new companies or reformulated products - traditional products that have remained unchanged for years are drawing attention to their clean label recipes.
One such example is Prosciutto di Parma. It was in Paris plugging the fact that its Parma ham, which has protected designation of origin (PDO) status, is free from nitrates.
Head of international marketing, Elke Fernandez, told us: “It contains only pork meat and Mediterranean sea salt. The salt acts both as a preserving agent and as the agent that draws humidity from the meat and helps to dry cure it, and develop all the flavours and aromas.
“Nitrates are not allowed by our specifications. Everything to do with our product is regulated by a very strict law, the Parma ham law, which is an Italian and EU law.
When the United Nations agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), concluded last year there was a link between processed meat, nitrates (E250) and cancer was a scare to the meat industry but Prosciutto di Parma was confident it could be a positive development for its business.
“[The IARC classification] is exactly why we continue to communicate this recently to consumers and the trade,” said Fernandez. “Because being able to say we don’t use nitrates is quite unusual in the world of meat products and it’s something consumers should be made aware of as much as possible.
Unlike other types of generic Italian ham, Prosciutto di Parma only uses meat from pigs that are born, bred and slaughtered in Italy from authorised breeding farms in the Parma region
Around 32% of its products go for export with the rest consumed in Italy. Its primary export market at the minute is the US, followed by France, Germany, the UK, Belgium and Holland.