A taste of freedom!

With a recent Euromonitor study showing that the free from category recorded 12% retail value and volume growth to reach €148 million and 31,500 tonnes in 2020, it’s clear a growing number of consumers are on the hunt for appetising free from options; that’s a sizeable cohort of shoppers who you won’t want to disappoint!


Brand Central

24 June 2021

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Irish consumers have been actively exploring free from products in recent years, be it for health, lifestyle, or dietary reasons. As the benefits of healthy diet and lifestyle have been emphasised by global authorities during the pandemic, it seems many Irish consumers have taken the advice on board and have begun to avoid certain foods. According to research from Euromonitor published in January 2021, free from products recorded the strongest retail value growth within health and wellness packaged food in 2020. Increasing awareness of gluten intolerance has influenced sales of free from products, especially within baby food, while sales of baby food free from lactose and dairy have also increased. Many consumers who are not gluten intolerant are also taking up gluten free diets as they believe it is healthier. 

A recent survey by Safefood found that 23% of people buy gluten-free foods, and 92% of those people did not have a gluten-related disorder. Free from meat recorded the strongest growth within free from in 2020, as the number of vegetarians and vegans continued to grow in Ireland. Many others have opted to cut back on their meat consumption for health or ethical reasons. With so much growth within the category, it’s important that retailers don’t get caught with a lacklustre free from range, and with that in mind, here we explore the many appetising products available on the market.

Oozing homemade quality

Rosie & Jim has grown by over 200% in terms of sales, since its first full year of trading in retail in 2019

Rosie & Jim is a family business producing tasty and nutritious chicken products since 1997. The company uses premium grade EU fresh chicken fillets and the cleanest ingredients possible to achieve products that ooze quality with a very natural “homemade” appeal. 100% of products are manufactured in Dublin at Rosie & Jim’s state-of-the-art production facility. Innovation and continuous improvement are deeply ingrained in the business and it strives to achieve on-trend, healthy meal options for mainstream consumers but also for those with dietary concerns. 

The quality of Rosie & Jim’s free from product range is widely recognized through multiple Free From and Quality Food Awards. In 2020, Rosie & Jim was the proud recipient of the esteemed Innovation Award at the Free From Food Awards for the company’s continued development and commitment to free from foods.

Rosie & Jim’s Southern Fried Chicken Goujons are gluten free, egg free and dairy free

All its fresh and frozen chicken and turkey products are gluten free, egg free and dairy free. The only exception being the garlic Chicken Kievs which are just gluten free and egg free as they contain real Irish butter.  

Rosie & Jim has been trading through the butcher channel since 1997, but in 2018, took the leap into the retail trade in frozen bags and more recently in 2020, with the launch of the chilled tray packs. “Since our first full year of trading in retail in 2019, the brand has grown by over 200% in terms of sales,” says Avril Fitzgerald, business sales manager at Rosie & Jim. “In 2020, over 700,000 retail units of Rosie & Jim products were sold through retail outlets across the island of Ireland*.” 

Rosie and Jim has exciting NPD coming to the market in 2021 with the launch of its Shredded Chicken along with a new Hot n Spicy range. These represent significant investment in an already state-of-the-art facility and a strengthening of an already experienced team.

Free from will continue to be the focus for the brand moving forward. “Gluten free is at the heart of everything we do and if we can enhance that to remove other allergens, we will endeavor to do so and give the consumer the best taste experience while ensuring they don’t feel they are eating a free from product,” says Jimmy McLoughlin, managing director. 

*(Source: Internal sales data on sales out to retail customers specifically MRPI, Dunnes Stores, BWG, Hendersons Wholesale)

Jacked-up healthiness

Jacked-Up serves up 100% vegan chilled meat replacement dishes packed full of fibre, low in calories and with zero sugar and fat

Jacked-Up has created three tasty vegan products full of flavour that will allow consumers to enjoy nutritious jackfruit in all its glory. These jackfruit products contain nothing but jacked up tasty goodness. With a texture like pulled pork and packed with nutrients,. all that Jacked-Up has done is add the best flavours such as smokey Pulled BBQ, spicy Tex Mex and flavoursome Indian Curry.

Jackfruit is packed full of nutrition, is low in sugar and calories and has the additional benefit of being similar in taste and texture to a recognisable food – pulled pork – making it the “ultimate meat replacement”. Vegan and vegetarian food trends have been increasing year on year as the public become more knowledgeable about the choices they have and the positive effects of a plant-based diet. Jacked-Up’s brand new product range can be consumed hot or cold, as they are or added to salad bowls, used as pizza toppings, burger fillings, or for tacos and wraps. The uses are endless!

Jacked-Up was the brainchild of business partners Gursharan Singh and Binu Varghese. This exciting food start-up was created in 2020 when the directors realised a clear gap in the market for healthy and tasty vegan alternatives in Ireland. Both directors have roots in India and are involved in the Asian retail sector and food distribution industry with 20 years of experience in Ireland, which provided access to an authentic main ingredient for a new vegan product – jackfruit.

They have purchased an exciting meal production facility of 5,000sq ft with chill and frozen storage. 

Jackfruit is a fruit that grows from a tree in its native Southern India where Jacked-Up’s founders first discovered it as a staple of the diet. Each Jacked-Up dish is 100% vegan (approved by the Vegetarian Society), low in fat, high in iron, fibre and vitamin E and C. A chilled product Jacked-Up has a 21 day shelf life and is packaged in environmentally sustainable packaging which is up to 85% recycled.  Every 64 grams (half a cup) of jackfruit contains approximately 40 calories, zero sugar, zero fat and two grams of protein – it just couldn’t be any healthier if it tried!

The range is made in Ireland and comes in 300g portion for two, vegan approved with an RRP €3.99; now available in selected SuperValu and independent stores nationwide.

For more information, visit www.jackedup.ie, www.instagram.com/jackeduphere/, www.facebook.com/JackedUpIreland/ and www.twitter.com/JackedUpIreland

For sales queries, contact Binu at +353 1 802 4888.

Feels good, tastes great

Rosie & Jim’s Southern Fried Chicken Goujons are gluten free, egg free and dairy free

Avonmore Lactose Free Milk was originally launched in 2009 to deliver a solution to consumers who were diagnosed as lactose intolerant, but who did not wish to eliminate dairy unnecessarily from their diets. In the intervening years, the brand has experienced considerable growth, extended its appeal to a much wider audience, and is now the number one lactose free dairy milk in the market.

Due to changing consumer attitudes and the increased interest in free from diets, there is now a growing segment of the population who feel they may have some sensitivity or difficulty digesting lactose, or are simply opting to limit their intake of lactose for perceived health benefits. However, for many, they also recognise the importance of maintaining dairy in their diets as a key source of calcium and protein, and they don’t want to compromise when it comes to taste either.  

Avonmore Lactose Free Milk is made from regular cow’s milk but has the added enzyme lactase, which simply breaks down the lactose in the milk, making it easier to digest and helping to avoid the unpleasant symptoms associated with lactose intolerance. Because it’s made from regular milk, it has the same nutritional benefits, and the same great, fresh milk taste too. Avonmore Lactose Free milk has just launched a new creative platform ‘Feels Good, Tastes Great’ and is supported through advertising across out-of-home (OOH), RTE Weather sponsorship, radio and digital audio, digital, social media and PR.

Milking Irish oats

The Oat in the City range includes an Original Oat Milk and a Barista variety for coffee making, as well as a dairy-free chocolate flavoured variety

A Tullamore farmer has set his sights on milking the Irish market for non-dairy milk sales, which in 2020 amounted to €68m. The global market for plant milks is estimated to be worth $2.2bn by 2024, with sales growing 20% every year.

Liam Lynam has launched his Oat in the City real oat drink, made from Irish oats, locally grown in the midlands. The natural milked oat drink is fresh, creamy and gluten and dairy-free, delivering an authentic taste by retaining all the oats’ natural fibre and goodness.

Lynam, who worked in the food sector for 20 years before returning to run the family farm, says many leading oat milk brands contain little or no naturally occurring oat fibre and are essentially sweetened water made from concentrate or syrup.  

“Our oat milk retains the oats’ natural beta glucans, fibre and protein, and is low in natural sugars, with no added sugar,” he says. “Most commercial oat drinks are made by stripping away the parts that have the fibre and protein, so you’re mostly getting oat sugar.”

Over 200 retail and hospitality outlets in the midlands including SuperValu stores, independent retailers and coffee shops are already stocking the premium oat drink. Oat in the City was also selected as one of 50 local Irish producers to be stocked in all Aldi stores countrywide, in a special promotion this month, as part of the Grow with Aldi programme.

The range includes an Original Oat Milk and a Barista variety for coffee making, as well as a dairy-free chocolate flavoured oat drink, retailing at €2.80 for 750ml. 

The Oat in the City food start-up currently employs three people with a target of creating 10 jobs in the next three years and growing turnover to over €5m.

As well as being 100% Irish developed and made, Oat in the City is a fresh product, from the chilled cabinet, while most oat drinks are UHT. And, while generic oat milk brands will have up to 5g of sugar, Oat in the City has just 0.4g of natural sugar from the cereal, alongside fibre and protein for healthy nutrition and a slow energy release.  

Oat in the City is now available in the chilled cabinet in SuperValu and Aldi stores nationwide as well as independent retailers. See www.oatinthecity.ie for new stockists and Instagram @oat_in_the_city for updates.  

Not your run of the mill oats

Flahavan’s Gluten Free Irish Pure Oats significantly out-performed the free from category in 2020

Flahavan’s brand story is simple – it’s about family and place and one simple cereal – oats. Timeless, natural, wholesome and nourishing, Flahavan’s Gluten Free Irish Pure Oats is no exception, delivering a high quality product that consumers are increasingly turning to as their breakfast product of choice.  

Whether for dietary or lifestyle reasons, more and more Irish consumers are including free from products in their weekly shopping baskets and according to Euromonitor, the free from category recorded 12% retail value and volume growth to reach €148 million and 31,500 tonnes in 2020*. 

Flahavan’s Gluten Free Irish Pure Oats significantly out-performed the category and continues to drive growth in free from cereals. The rise in home baking during the pandemic also helped deliver sales growth as consumers re-discovered the versatility of oats, including gluten free oats, in baking breads, snacks and more – a trend set to continue into the future.  

Flahavan’s is a brand built on trust over seven generations and it’s this heritage and strong association with quality that provides reassurance to free from consumers, while it’s ultimately the excellent taste experience that encourages repeat purchase of Flahavan’s Gluten Free Irish Pure Oats.    

*(Source: Free From in Ireland, Euromonitor, Jan 2021)

Mighty meat-free range 

The Mighty Mushroom Co meat-free range smells, sizzles and even tastes like meat when cooked

The Mighty Mushroom Co, Ireland’s latest innovative plant-based brand, has announced its first meat-free range including Mince, Burgers and Cumberland Style Sausages in Eurospar across Ireland (from RRP €3.50).

Making its mark as the first new mushroom-based brand in the market, the range is designed to cater to flexitarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike, providing a solution to shoppers in search for sustainable alternatives. 

The plant-based sector is one of the fastest-growing areas of the food industry currently. The sales of meat-free products have grown by an astonishing 40% in the past five years, equating to an estimated £816m in 2019 alone*.

Tapping into this trend, the new Mighty Mushroom range is shaking up the meat-free market, packed full of tasty umami flavour and made with up to 85% mushrooms, which are grown on sustainable Irish farms. 

A source of fibre and high in key vitamins and minerals, shoppers can expect a flavour explosion in every bite and each serving contains less than 150 calories per portion.

What’s more, the full range contains no soya, is gluten-free, using only natural, wholefood ingredients, with absolutely no artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives.

The meat-free Mince can be purchased for RRP €3.99 and the Burgers and Cumberland Sausages have an RRP starting from €3.50.

For more information, visit www.mightilymeatfree.com.

 *(Source: The Grocer: ‘Future is plant-based’ November 2020)

CBD accessible to everyone

Each can of Parachute contains 10mg of the highest quality laboratory-tested hemp from Colorado

The brainchild of four Dublin school friends, Parachute was founded at the beginning of 2019, and is one of the first CBD drinks to hit the shelves.

After seeing the growing opportunity in the CBD category, coupled with the founders’ strive for a more balanced and calmer lifestyle; Parachute was born.

The founders are on a mission to create a community built around calm and self-care to promote general wellbeing and mental health.

The lightly sparkling lemon and juniper green tea boasts a range of health benefits such as being vegan friendly and gluten free, with each can containing 10mg of the highest quality laboratory-tested hemp from Colorado.

Parachute has already proven a hit with big Irish personalities such as Bressie, Jamie Heaslip, and Fergus McFadden, along with popular Irish influencers Thalia Heffernan and Shauna Lindsay. The company has also secured radio airtime across the biggest radio stations in Ireland and can be heard on Newstalk, Today FM and Spin 103.8, amongst others.

In an exciting move for the brand, this summer will see the launch of two new flavours to the portfolio as well as its recently launched 25mg CBD vegan gummies.

CBD oil is often an expensive product to purchase, with some oils retailing in excess of €50. Harrison Altman, one of the founders, says: “Parachute’s aim is for CBD to be accessible to everyone and for consumers not to feel excluded by the high cost of some CBD oils. Our ambition is to create a community promoting wellbeing, and to see our vision come to life means nobody is excluded.”

Currently Parachute is available in nearly 250 stores and stocked in SuperValu, Spar and Centra stores alongside countless independent stores.

With the global CBD drinks industry forecast to be worth €2.1 billion by 2025, the team at Parachute are passionate about growing this small Irish CBD brand into a global success story.

That’s a wrap!

BFree has launched two new flavour additions to its wraps range, -BFree Avocado Wraps and BFree High Protein Wraps

Over the past year, 37% of Irish consumers have agreed that they have started to eat and drink more free-from foods and sales of free-from foods has increased by 20% in 2020*.

BFree has always been ahead of the trends, and this month, BFree launches two new flavour additions to its wraps range – BFree Avocado Wraps and BFree High Protein Wraps, which are available now from Dunnes Stores, RRP €3.99 for a four-pack.

BFree’s consumer research found that eight in 10 consumers would pay more for a product that had an additional claim – having premium quality ingredients is the claim that most consumers would pay more for.

With 10 years’ experience in creating moreish free-from bakery goods that taste delicious and are nutritious, BFree continues to think outside the box and provide products that are free from the ingredients consumers don’t want and made with the ones they do.

BFree’s Avocado Wraps are super soft, only 107 calories, and are made from a blend of avocado, chickpea flour, rice and pea proteins. BFree’s new High Protein Wraps have been created using a blend of chickpea flour, rice, and pea proteins to create a delicious wrap with only 4g of carbs and 12g of protein per wrap.

To find out more about BFree and its full range of products, and for some tasty recipes, visit www.bfreefoods.com.

*(Source: Mintel Free-from Foods, UK, Executive Summary, February 2020) **(Source: BFree research conducted by Mustard Research in the UK, sample size 1,000 Free From Bakery Purchasers)





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