Category Focus: Family First

It’s a well-established fact at this stage: healthy options are mainstream in every aisle. Sugar and fat are out, protein is in. This trend is doubly true for family products as parents seek out the best for their children at home and in school, so we’ve selected some of the best new and classic products out there


Brand Central

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16 August 2019

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According to the 2018 Healthy Ireland Survey, published by the Department of Health, 34% of Irish people consume “unhealthy food” at least once per day, while only 37% eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

Despite this imbalance, there is no question that consumer interest in healthier options has soared in recent years. Healthy snacking has become easier and more affordable than ever, while the frozen aisle, once the purview of fatty, processed and low-quality alternatives to fresh products, is expanding to include some of the best of what’s on offer for family mealtimes.

With this new era of healthy options across the board in mind, we’ve explored the realm in all areas, to highlight some of the choices all retailers should be stocking in order to cater to modern consumers who want convenience but also the best of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

*(Source: Dept of Health, Healthy Ireland Survey, August 2018)

Fish for the family

  John West has always been a trusted family name, synonymous with quality everyday fish. The brand has not only built a loyal customer base over the years, but it also consistently appeals to a new audience of young families and young adults. With John West, a tasty fish meal is inviting and easy to prepare, or to fetch a natural protein rich snack to complement an active healthy lifestyle. The brand has focused on bringing to the market innovative products in modern formats to inspire families to consume quality fish regularly. John West fish products will be high on family shopping lists as the ‘back to school’ routines start, with a growing demand for tasty lunches and healthy snack options.

The John West Infusions range takes a single serving size portion of healthy fish and gives it extra zest by adding a rainbow of exciting flavours: Tuna infused with Chilli and Garlic, Basil, Soy and Ginger, Tangy Jalapeno, or Salmon infused with Sweet Chilli or Teriyaki to name a few.

Creations is perfect to create a quick healthy lunch or snack in seconds. It comes in a pouch and can be served hot or cold. Meanwhile, the brand’s latest innovation is the John West No Drain Tuna Fridgepot, a breakthrough in tuna packaging that has modernized the ambient tuna market.

The Fridgepot makes it even easier for consumers to get a serving of fish into their daily diet. This great time-saving product is convenient to prepare. is simple to open and can be resealed and kept fresh in the fridge for a full two days. Each pot contains a 110g serving of No Drain Tuna in an innovative modern plastic pot with a seethrough window. In short, it is a true revolution in the category. Stock up now and get the best out of John West!

A nutritional alternative

One Irish mum’s mission to tackle the obesity epidemic and get more children eating vegetables has led her to develop an awardwinning blog, two bestselling cookbooks and today she launches a range of convenient veggie packed nuggets for kids.

The Hidden Heroes range was developed by Aileen Cox Blundell to offer a healthy alternative for parents seeking a nutritional alternative to the often sugar and salt-laden convenient foods targeted at children such as waffles, fish fingers and chicken nuggets.

In 2015, Blundell’s love of food and concern over childhood obesity statistics led her to start the Baby Led Feeding blog. Since then she has amassed a following of more than 100,000 parents eager to find innovative ways of incorporating more vegetables into their children’s diets while avoiding the mealtime battle of the wills.

Hidden Heroes vegetable nuggets are a blend of sweet vegetables, mixed with chickpeas and lightly spiced. They are then formed into a nugget shape to ensure they look familiar to a child, lightly coated in a batter, breaded, then baked (never fried). The nuggets are cooked from frozen in 15 minutes. The clean label, vegan-friendly range contains 100% natural ingredients and is a source of fibre, low in saturated fat and has no added sugar or preservatives. Each portion provides one of a child’s recommended five a day, giving parents complete confidence on portion size.

The Hidden Heroes range is available in Dunnes Stores nationwide, and includes:

• Super Golden Veggie Nuggets – sweet potato, carrot and chickpea

• Hidden Heroes Mighty Green Veggie Nuggets – broccoli, spinach and chickpea

• Hidden Heroes Purple Power Veggie Nuggets – beetroot, sweet potato and chickpea

For further information visit or turn to page 78 of this month’s edition of ShelfLife for our special VeganLife interview with Aileen Cox-Blundell.

Eat green

Birds Eye has launched Green Cuisine, a brand new meat-free range made with protein extracted from peas. With a reputation for innovation and quality and over 60 years’ expertise in producing the best peas, it is not surprising that Birds Eye has chosen a specially selected variety of pea as the protein source for its range of mouth-watering meatfree burgers, sausages and Swedish balls.

Green Cuisine has been developed with contemporary, health conscious consumers in mind. Taste and health are at its heart in delivering tasty meatfree alternatives, rich in plant protein, low in saturated fat and a source of fibre.

Above-the-line support and a robust innovation pipeline for 2020 and beyond, will ensure that Birds Eye continues to fuel the growth of plant-based eating as it becomes increasingly mainstream among families and non-family groups.

Vegan certified, Green Cuisine successfully recreates the taste and texture of popular meat products, helping families to achieve a balanced diet through healthy alternatives without compromising on flavour from a brand they know and trust.

Guilt-free snacking

With over 72% of adults regularly buying food on-the-go, Irish consumers are looking for healthy snacks and are moving away from the usual indulgent choices. From smooth, creamy, Greek style yogurts, to kefir drinks and Icelandic style Skyr yogurts, Light & Free offers the guilt-free snack consumers are looking for. With a wide range of flavours and styles, all products in the range contain 0% fat*, 0% added sugar** and are 100% delicious.

Enjoyed by almost 20% of Irish households***, this year has been a step change for Light & Free as it brings exciting and relevant innovations to the market, meeting the needs of Irish consumers and fuelling total brand value growth of +13% MAT****.

Fridge filler

Light & Free’s 0% Fat*, 0% added sugar** and 100% delicious Greek Style yogurt comes in an array of flavours, whether it is blueberry, lemon, strawberry, raspberry or vanilla, these tasty snacks keep consumers feeling free. It’s the ideal snack to enjoy as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Meanwhile, protein is an evergrowing nutrient of choice among Irish consumers and Light & Free has just the answer with its high protein, 0% fat and 0% added sugar Skyr Icelandic Style yogurt range. With 14g protein in each pot, these yogurts provide a simple and healthy snacking choice, while also meeting the demand for functional, addedvalue protein snacks that don’t compromise taste. With a choice of three flavours, Raspberry, Strawberry and Blueberry, there is a flavour to suit all tastes.

Finally, Kefir is the rising star of fermented drinks with +37%**** growth in Ireland each year. This popularity looks set to build, and people are looking for ways to implement fermented foods and drinks into their everyday diets. With this in mind, Light & Free has launched its new Light & Free Kefir range. This fermented milk drink continues with the brand’s positioning and delivers once again on its 0% fat and 0% added sugar promise. It contains live cultures from up to 20 different strains and provides a source of calcium and protein.

Tangy and versatile, Light & Free Kefir comes in three different flavours: Cucumber & Lime, Pomegranate & Blueberry, and Plain, offering the refreshing kick needed during the day.

Light & Free is the tasty and versatile snack all Irish consumers should have in their fridge to fill that gap without guilt. With +13% value growth,* Light & Free is set to maintain this strong growth as it continues to innovate and keep up with the needs of the Irish consumer.

*(Over 30% fewer calories than most full fat fruit yogurts.)
**(Contains naturally occurring sugars)
***(Source: Kantar world panel June 2019)
****(Source: Nielsen data ending 16 June 2019)
***** (Source: Nielsen Data (2018) ending 52wks 7 Oct 2018)

Good roots

Built on an unwavering commitment to 100% organic, ethically and sustainably sourced food, Biona began life over 35 years ago at Noel and Donata McDonald’s kitchen table. As the couple experimented with simple home-made granola, which they packed and sold in their pioneering organic shop, Windmill Wholefoods, their product became so popular they quickly outgrew their kitchen table and Biona was born.

Today, the Biona family is proud to bring more than 350 organic products to lovers of good food in 30 countries across the world. Healthy food has its roots in healthy soil. Biona Organic continually reinvests in the organic farming industry. Whatever the crop, Biona farmers never, ever use chemical pesticides or herbicides, or grow genetically modified crops. Due to the fact Biona believes in 100% traceability for each and every product, all of its ingredients are of the highest standard, completely natural and suitable for vegetarians (and often vegans too).

The Biona brand includes rye breads high in fibre, palm oil-free nut butters, juices (never from concentrate), BPA-free tinned beans, pulses and tomatoes, raw apple cider vinegar that and lots more. All these products remain true to the root of Biona which is “good food comes from good roots!”


Health and wellbeing are set to continue to have a big impact on consumer choices. While fast food is being swapped for healthier options and veganism is also on the rise, pizza remains a popular choice. Irish households are now saying no to greasy takeaway and making pizza in their home with complete control over what goes on it.

Italian master baker and founder of Pizza da Piero, Piero de Vallier uses a traditional method of creating his pizza dough over a two-day period. The long process allows the gluten enzyme in the dough to break down the starch before the product is baked, which means it is more digestible when eaten and so won’t sit in the stomach like other bread products.

The ingredients are simple and contain no preservatives, sugars or additives. The pizza bases are vegan-friendly, dairy-free and a big hit with celebrity chefs and food writers. The company won silver at last year’s Blas nahÉireann Food Awards and was featured in The Irish Times top 30 of the best Irish Food products of 2019.

Pizza da Piero pizza bases are the only alternative to a greasy take-away pizza, bringing real authentic Italian pizza into Irish homes.

New heights

Irish protein bar brand Everest Snacks has recently signed a contract with a UK distributor, with the first order set to ship this month.

Seamus Tighe, founder and managing director of Everest Snacks says that the first product to be shopped for export are the protein bars, with Everest granola cups set to follow later this year, through an agreement with a second UK distributor. The two deals are part of Everest’s overall growth strategy, according to Seamus Tighe.

“Regarding the Irish market,” says Tighe, “we have an exciting new product coming to shelves in September, and we are also currently in the process of finalising a further launch for January 2020.

“As an Irish-owned company,” he adds, “we truly value our consumers at home, and take pride in sourcing local ingredients and investing in the economy.”

Everest Snacks has successfully grown its single product offering to a variety of healthy and convenient products including granola and yoghurt cups, protein bars, porridge quickies, as well as the crowd pleasing strawberry protein pot, which is part of the granola range and was the first of its kind on the Irish market.

Sweet freedom

Amid the call from scientists and healthcare professionals for a dramatic reduction in our sugar intake, many consumers wonder how they can go free from sugar when scientific research also shows sweet tastes are naturally craved from birth.

Swiss company Hermes Sweeteners has a natural way to do both, while also avoiding the dental issues that sugar causes. The SteviaSweet brand of sugar alternative is made from the stevia plant; it tastes great and what’s even better news, is that research shows that SteviaSweet is adding sales to the category by converting sugar users.

SteviaSweet Crystal is crunchy, granulated for a sugar-like texture. It is heat stable so great for baking and cooking as well as replacing sugar in tea, coffee, on muesli, cereals, fruit, yoghurt and any occasion you want a sugar-sweet taste without any calories. It is made from the naturally growing stevia plant and has a wonderful baking sugar aroma that is unique to SteviaSweet.

On pack there are recipes to stimulate the imagination as well as a website with loads more scrumptious items to prepare, cook and bake. It is made from natural ingredients and tested on over 1,200 consumers with over 88% rating it very highly and 90% agreeing “I’d like to buy”.

SteviaSweet Tablets are also available for tea and coffee in tiny, mini-sized tablets. They come in a unique one-by-one translucent dispenser that is great for home use but also so versatile and neat to carry around in a handbag or pocket.

SteviaSweet Crystal granulated and SteviaSweet Tablets, both of which are made in Switzerland are available via Allegro on 1 858 0600. To learn more about SteviaSweet, visit

Myths and milk

The National Dairy Council has produced a new consumer booklet on Common Dairy Myths. The booklet covers a range of topics, addressing misconceptions around nutrition; animal welfare; dairy processing; and sustainability.

Milk, yogurt and cheese are established as nutrient-rich foods that can be included as part of a healthy balanced diet, with three servings per day recommended by the Department of Health. However, misinformation can cause confusion and, worryingly, some people may compromise their nutritional intakes by excluding or limiting important food groups based on inaccurate information.

Perceptions relating to health or ethical issues are common among the misinformation. In cases where milk is excluded, consumers are often unaware that it is a source of essential nutrients including protein, calcium, iodine, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin B5, phosphorus and potassium. Common Dairy Myths can be downloaded from or a limited number of copies may be ordered by contacting

Thirst for better

Deep RiverRock is on a mission is to fuel the passionate people that power our communities, encouraging them to stay active, hydrated and be their best. Sourced deep in the heart of our land and brought to the hands of people across the country, every bottle of this high-quality water flows with a character that is uniquely Irish.

Since launching its ‘Thirst For Better’ campaign last year, Deep RiverRock has been giving local communities the opportunity to join the fund and is inviting consumers to choose a group of their choice to avail of the 10 cents or pence donation from every pack. Already over 200 groups have registered and the campaign has enjoyed hugely positive consumer engagement. This year, Deep RiverRock has been proudly bringing this message to communities with a fully integrated marketing campaign and also through its sponsorship platforms; the Belfast City Marathon and the four rugby provinces.

“A big personality and a local sense of humour is what differentiates Deep RiverRock and drives an emotional connection with consumers,” says Tara O’Rourke, head of brand marketing, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland. “When people stay hydrated, they feel better. They can then take the time to come together and do the things they love. It was this sense of togetherness that we see in communities all over the country that inspired this campaign.’’

In addition to celebrating community spirit, Deep RiverRock wants to protect the beautiful island of Ireland and has sustainability at the heart of its mission. Deep RiverRock was the leader and first major water brand in Ireland to introduce a 100% recycled bottle across its full PET portfolio this year. “It is important to highlight the brand has always been 100% recyclable,” says O’Rourke. “Many people see the word ‘recycle’ and don’t appreciate the distinct difference between ‘100% recycled’ (made from recycled materials) and recyclable (can be processed and used again). We are delighted to claim both.’’

Marking a significant milestone in the brand’s commitment to design more sustainable packaging and encourage greater recycling, Deep RiverRock also ‘recycled’ its logo with an impactful ‘100% Recycled Bottle’ message front-of-pack supported by a heavyweight marketing campaign. Deep RiverRock is available in a range of sizes and formats in still, sparkling, plain and flavoured variants, offering a convenient pack for every hydration occasion.

For more information, visit or contact the brand’s customer service centre on 1890 26 22 26 (ROI) or 028 9262 0520 (NI).

Share the magic

It’s no secret that the best meals are those that are shared. There’s nothing quite like preparing and sharing a meal with loved ones. That magic (draíocht) when you put together the best produce and ingredients and share it with family and friends. Whether you’re a complete novice in the kitchen or more of a dab hand, the most important thing is that the taste and quality of ingredients are allowed to shine through for everyone at the table to enjoy.

Collar of Gold is a 100% Irish rapeseed oil created using a unique patented process, one which results in an oil as subtle as our native tongue. A means of expressing the complex, the almost mystical flavours of food in a way that elevates and celebrates the experience. Made from virgin oil, from seed grown by Irish farmers, the precious golden oil is slowly extracted leaving behind the bitter tasting outer shells.

Water vapour is then used to remove the strong taste, smell and colour usually found in rapeseed oil, producing the purest and most natural oil. Collar of Gold is an oil steeped in the tradition of the land of its birth and decorated with the Gleninsheen Gold Collar, a 3,000 year old treasure of the Irish bronze period.

The uniquely neutral colour and taste of Collar of Gold, along with its high performance at both high and low temperatures, has resulted in a love for the Irish oil among top professional chefs and home cooks alike. Not just for use while cooking, consumers can elevate their efforts in the kitchen and use Collar of Gold to whip up the creamiest mayonnaise or a delicious light and zingy salad dressing with no oily undertones. It can also be substituted for butter while baking, creating that perfect moistness without altering the taste like so many other oils can.

The ideal kitchen companion that’s also 100% natural and high in Omega 3 and 6, there’s no surprise that Collar of Gold has earned a place at the table in kitchens all around the country.

Collar of Gold Clearly Pure Irish Rapeseed Oil is a proud member of Origin Green and available now in retailers all over Ireland (RRP €5.99 / 500ml). The brand has also received high praise from many of Ireland’s top chefs, such as Kieran Glennon, head chef, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (Michelin Star) who said: “Collar of Gold is a beautifully pure and natural oil. We use it in dressings and sauces, where it does not compromise compromise flavours and are delighted to work with world class Irish food producers.” For more information and to view a brand film in English or As Gaeilge, visit


From Russia with love

  When Biotiful founder Natasha moved to London from Russia, she couldn’t find what’s known as a Kefir, a fermented milk drink, that matched her memory of this superfood she grew up drinking. She therefore set about creating the perfect Kefir for modern day life – naturally nutritious and delicious. Now Kefir is at the heart of all Biotiful products.

Originating in the Caucasus mountains around 2,000 years ago , Kefir is enjoyed by millions all over the world for its great taste and nutritional benefits. By fermenting locally sourced milk with authentic live Kefir grains, Biotiful creates cultured milk drinks that are naturally packed with billions of gut-friendly cultures, high in protein, vitamins and minerals, with no added sugar or artificial ingredients. Biotiful Kefir is available in a range of flavours including Original, Cherry, Cacao, Strawberry and Honey & Ginger in 250ml and 500ml bottles.

Biotiful more recently launched Kefir Quark – a unique combination of milk with kefir and quark cultures that makes a thick and creamy dairy snack packed with protein, full of gutfriendly cultures and similarly no sugar added. Kefir Quark comes in Original, Kefir Quark with a range of fruit compotes including Raspberry, Black Cherry and Strawberry & Rhubarb, and also Kefir Quark with Seed and Berry toppers. Biotiful’s range of Kefir and Kefir Quark is available through Irish Independent Health Foods. Check out













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