04 Aug Insider View: July 2016
……with improvements in taste only increasing their appeal to a wider audience, fuelling growth.
Free From foods have rapidly increased in availability and prominence in recent years. All the major retailers now have extensive and growing ranges, with Marks & Spencer particularly active with new selections of ambient and chilled foods. Rather than have a separate section of special diet foods, they are embedding FF variants into their standard fixtures as a clearly labelled alternative. Many are specially devised recipes like Breaded Cod Fillets, Quiche and Lasagne, with a number of standard lines such as sausages adapted to appeal to a wide audience of traditional and GF customers alike. Their cake and biscuit range are delicious in their own right, with the store offering an extensive range of speciality cakes, including a £199 Wedding Cake. M&S are not alone in seeing the value of FF foods, particularly given the higher prices that good quality options can command and the growing, much larger, market for ‘clean’ foods. With a recent survey by honesteats* indicating that over half of their respondents were not buying free-from foods because of an intolerance, many suppliers are looking to appeal to this sector. Brands like Heck are marketing their sausages and Sausage Patties as Gluten Free and this month we see GOSH making a virtue of their Naturally Free From Sweetcorn and Quinoa Bites, which appealed to non Coeliac and vegetarian testers alike.
Wider acceptance of previously ‘niche’ foods is an increasing feature of our assessments that only recently would have been considered as ‘not for me’. Not only are Dairy Free foods finding wider acceptance as lighter alternatives, but vegetable foods, for example, Tesco Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon and Garlic Drizzle, are intriguing many, described as ‘clean and crisp’, – ‘a different way of eating cauliflower’.
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July was another active month for Free From with 5 out of the 7 Dairy/Gluten free options matching or beating their standard category norms.
- Bells of Lazenby We love GF Mini Pecan Tarts wowed our Coeliac panel, achieving an above norm score of 40. (Showcase Product of the month Review 160738)
- Heartease Farm’s Ginger Beer lived up to its Fiery name and made the most of its British heritage to achieve a respectable rating of 37 (Review 160712).
- Mrs Crimble moves into new GF territory with a Cheese & Wine Pasta pack, but many Coeliacs used to making their own were reluctant to buy. (Review 160737)
- Made Without Dairy Dark Choc with Orange& Sugar Crunch from M&S, impressed not just the Lactose intolerant with its full flavour and lovely dark chocolate. (Review 160732).
- As did the M&S Made Without Dairy Coconut Cream Dessert, which proved to be moreish but not sickly, – an ideal alternative to ice cream. (Review 160733)
- Not forgetting the Vegetarian angle, Asda stood out with their Taste of Italy Spinach & Ricotta Pastry Plaits, which only 1 in 10 said they would never buy. (Review: 160703).
*On-line Survey amongst a sample of 1,798 members of the Gluten Free Centre