Free for all

Following the success of Dr Schar’s White Ciabatta Rolls in Dunnes, the company has received a new listing for its DS-gluten free Brown Ciabatta Rolls this year
Following the success of Dr Schar’s White Ciabatta Rolls in Dunnes, the company has received a new listing for its DS-gluten free Brown Ciabatta Rolls this year

The free from sector is growing year on year and according to Bord Bia research, trade led developments around enhanced in-store positioning and promotions are likely to help maintain the consistent growth of this ‘small’ category with big potential, writes Gillian Hamill


Brand Central

19 July 2011

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The free from sector is one of the fastest growing in niche foods. In fact, food intolerance products grew by nearly 8% in 2009 to reach sales of just over €12 million (Euromonitor International: Health & Wellness in Ireland, July 2010).

According to the Bord Bia report, ‘Research on Free From Foods’ dated December 2010/ January 2011, just under 200,000 adults purchase free from foods (which include gluten, wheat, diary and sugar free foods)  regularly because they or a family member have a clinical need to do so. This group only constitutes one in four of those who purchase free from foods. Bord Bia asked consumers if they purchased free from products because they had a health condition (such as coeliac disease) which required them to do so, or to help improve their general health and wellbeing.

This is an issue particularly relevant to Ireland, because this country has one of the highest prevalence rates of coeliac disease in the world. Unsurprisingly, gluten free and dairy free are key products for the ‘must eat’ group while sugar free is the dominant product for those who replied that they eat these foods to be ‘healthy’ generally.

The dominant food category for the ‘must eat’ group is bread. Consumers also responded that clear labelling, competitive pricing and taste are the key components of the ideal free from product. In terms of overall evaluation, general feedback is reasonable albeit reservations particularly exist in relation to value for money.

As part of the agency’s research, Bord Bia also conducted interviews with trade buyers to ascertain their views on the free from sector.

These interviews found that the current trade view of free from is of a small category with potential, currently accounting for a maximum of 1% of turnover.  While free from consumers are often considered to be high spend, the key potential for the category relates to the possible size of the hidden/undiagnosed free from market. The greatest scope for further product developments is envisaged to be in the bread area.

The report concludes that the introduction of in-store promotions and price offers can only serve to address the issue of free from food price premia, as well as begin to position the broader category as one which is a more mainstream/’normal’ one.

Ireland’s first free from frozen range

Market leading gluten and wheat free brand DS-gluten free (Dietary Specials) has teamed up with Dunnes to launch the Republic of Ireland’s first ever frozen gluten and wheat free food.

The new frozen range, which launches in 49 stores across the country this month, includes DS-gluten free Margherita Pizza, Thin and Crispy Pepperoni Pizza and Tear and Share Garlic Bread.

The move follows continued growth in the sales of gluten and wheat free products – and will meet demand from category consumers for quick and convenient meals and snacks.

Michelle Shinn, retail brand manager at Dr Schär UK, the company responsible for the DS-gluten free brand, said:  “Our research shows that gluten and wheat free consumers struggle to find quick and convenient meal solutions and our DS-gluten free frozen range has been designed with this in mind and we are confident that there will be strong demand from customers.“

The new DS-gluten free range, which is distributed through Brandshapers, will be launched by Dr. Schär UK with a consumer marketing campaign, including sampling at events, online activities and direct mail and couponing to consumers.  

Driving the sector forward

Dr. Schär UK is one of the leading suppliers of gluten and wheat free foods. Its brands, DS-gluten free and Glutafin, are available to buy in the Republic of Ireland in major food retailers including Tesco, Dunnes, Superquinn and SuperValu.

Michelle Shinn, retail brand manager at Dr. Schär UK, said: “As market leaders in gluten free food, we are driving the sector forward with our dedicated research and development facility which is committed to providing true innovation that meets consumers’ needs.

“Only last month we teamed up with Dunnes to launch the first ever free from frozen range in ROI aimed at struggling free from consumers looking for convenient meal solutions. Our range has already been well received by consumers with the products currently performing in the top five of our two brands ranges.

“This year, following the success of our White Ciabatta Rolls in Dunnes, we have also received a new listing for our DS-gluten free Brown Ciabatta Rolls. This product has received awards for its taste and quality.

“Plus, Tesco has listed four new DS-gluten free and Glutafin lines and extended the distribution of our DS-gluten free and Glutafin ranges in their stores across ROI including pushing our DS-gluten Cornflakes to 100 more stores.  As a result, Tesco is creating more choice for gluten free consumers.

“As category captains for Tesco, we are able to advise on their free from offering and we’ve seen growth in our business with them, particularly in the sweet biscuits sector with our Glutafin Chocolate Digestives and Glutafin Shortbread.

“As one of Europe’s longest established gluten and wheat free food specialists, Dr. Schär works hard to constantly monitor and meet these changing consumer needs.  Using insights from our panel of more than 150,000 free from consumers, we have continually grown and developed our DS-gluten free and Glutafin brands to meet shopper demand and generate real consumer loyalty.

“Research completed last year showed that more than 60%* of people say that their allergy or intolerance has completely changed the way they shop and feel that planning meals and shopping takes a lot longer now they have an allergy or intolerance.

“We have many ways of supporting our customer base, including sending our consumers coupons, offering discounts in-store and providing help and advice via our website and dedicated freephone Careline. We also have an events ambassador who attends local coeliac events in the Republic of Ireland.”

Jubiliant Juvela

Juvela, a brand leader in gluten free foods, launched a new range of breakfast cereals in March this year.  The new range is both gluten free and wheat free.  The range comprises four new cereals – Juvela Special Flakes, Juvela Special Flakes with Red Berries, Juvela Fibre Flakes and Juvela Pure Oats.

The range was developed following extensive research amongst Juvela’s coeliac customers in Ireland where they were asked what gaps there were in the current offering of gluten-free products available.  The number one response was a need for breakfast cereals including traditional gluten free porridge oats.

The new range was promoted to coeliac customers through a nationwide promotional mailing and product sampling campaign.  According to Juvela, the response has been overwhelming with sales of the new lines exceeding all expectations.
The Juvela range of gluten free foods is distributed by SHS Sales & Marketing.

SHS Sales & Marketing distributes the Juvela range of gluten free foods

SHS Sales & Marketing distributes the Juvela range of gluten free foods

Soaring sourdough sales

Kelkin launched its latest unique Gluten Free Bread offering in April 2011 at the Coeliac Society’s AGM with great success. Kelkin Gluten Free Sourdough Bread 390g (2x195g) does not have to be refreshed once opened, it tastes delicious straight from the pack. The large, soft slices are ideal for making sandwiches, a priority for gluten free consumers. Kelkin Sourdough bread is high in fibre, wheat free and the six slices are separated into two individual packs for consumer’s convenience. This ‘must stock’ line is selling well. Contact Kelkin on 01 4600400 to place your order today.

Full of life  

Lifeforce chocolate and yoghurt covered rice cakes are a healthier alternative to traditional snacking.  Available in 2 X 3 packs they also encourage portion control and ensure that the product remains fresher for longer.

They are ideal for use in work or school lunch-boxes and fill the 11 o’clock tea-breaker better than crisps or a bar of chocolate. These products are attractively priced and provide an excellent margin to retailers. The company recommends merchandising them in the health food shelves or close to other convenience snacking products.

To order, contact your rep or call Lifeforce on 041 9870300.

Award-winning baking

Delicious is a specialist bakery looking after the needs of individuals on restricted diets, including coeliacs on gluten free diets.

The company was set up by Denise O’Callaghan after her father was diagnosed as a coeliac. Denise and her family were home bakers and were so disappointed with the range of gluten free products available on the market that they developed their own tasty gluten free recipes at home to cater for their newly diagnosed coeliac. Denise, with her father, decided that other coeliacs should enjoy the recipes too. From that idea, Delicious was created.

The company has since expanded and due to demand from customers, it has extended the range to include wheat free, dairy free and yeast free baking.

The range is award winning, having won several Great Taste Awards and the company also won the SuperValu Producer of the Year Award (best new market entrant) in 2010.

The company has just expanded to new larger premises in Cork to cater for its increased demand as it rolls its products out to the multiples. The range includes everything from breads and scones to wedding and celebration cakes and is available to the retail and food service market. Delicious has just launched a range of birthday cakes for children and adults which are gluten, wheat, dairy and yeast free and these will soon be available nationwide.

The team continues to develop new recipes and ideas to meet the needs of its customers.  A strong focus is placed on customer service and ensuring that its customers feel nurtured and cared for.

Any queries on the range or products should be directed to Denise on 021 4919583.

The Roma Gluten Free Range is recognised by the Coeliac Society of Ireland

The Roma Gluten Free Range is recognised by the Coeliac Society of Ireland

When in Roma

Roma has launched its new range of gluten free pasta. Its new gluten free spaghetti, fusilli and penne are made from corn flour and rice flour and hold a tasty taste and texture, not unlike its standard durum wheat pasta shapes.

Roma’s suppliers have been producing pasta in the town of Lucca, Northern Italy, for over 100 years, and their dedication to the craft is evident with these new lines. These suppliers also supply Roma’s standard pasta, so their produce already has the seal of approval with Irish consumers.

Strictly monitored and manufactured to international regulations these are high quality alternative pastas to the standard range. Recognised by the Coeliac Society of Ireland, the Roma Gluten Free Range is now available for order. For more information email or call 01 4051500.

A preservative free Discovery

Discovery has devised the first tortilla of its kind: the new preservative free plain flour tortilla, made with carefully selected, wheat and preservative free ingredients.  

With the Discovery range, mums can feel safe in the knowledge that the food they serve is totally natural and contains no added ‘nasties’.

Now all consumers need to do is follow Discovery’s simple steps – just spice it up, top it up, wrap it up.  They can choose a filling of their choice, whether it be meat or stir-fried vegetables, then spice it up with Discovery’s Fajita Seasoning Paste (a blend of herbs and spices), or Fajita Seasoning Mix (now available in a new mild variant).  Next, it can be topped up with Discovery’s Squeezy toppings (cool soured cream, chunky hot, medium or smooth mild salsa and creamy guacamole). Finally consumers can wrap it up with a new Discovery Preservative Free Soft Flour Tortilla. And for recipe inspiration, the new tortilla comes complete with an on-pack recipe suggestion.

The new Discovery Preservative Free Tortilla joins the successful range of Discovery tortillas already available, including Plain, Wholemeal, Garlic & Coriander and Chilli & Jalapeno, reinforcing Discovery as the home of great-tasting Mexican food.  
For further information on Discovery or for more recipe inspiration visit:

ClonakiltyPudding perfection

Clonakilty Blackpudding Co. is launching three new products in  its gluten free range this July. The new products include a Gluten Free Blackpudding, a Gluten Free Whitepudding and Gluten Free Mini Puddings. They are in addition to the company’s Gluten Free Sausages which were launched in 2007. Clonakilty Gluten Free Sausages are the number one gluten free sausage in the market**

Clonakilty is Ireland’

Ireland’s number one pudding brand, Clonakilty, offers a range of Blackpudding, Whitepudding, Rashers and Sausages

Ireland’s number one pudding brand, Clonakilty, offers a range of Blackpudding, Whitepudding, Rashers and Sausages

s number one pudding brand* with a range of Blackpudding, Whitepudding, Rashers and Sausages. The secret recipe for Clonakilty Blackpudding has its origins in the 1800s, however Clonakilty Blackpudding Co is very aware of the trends of modern Ireland, including an increase in demand for gluten free products for both health needs and diet preferences. 

The Gluten Free Blackpudding and Whitepudding are now available in 200g and the Gluten Free Mini Pudding is available in 260g.
* (Source: Value, Kantar 52 w/e to 15th May 2011)
**(Source: Value and Volume, Kantar 52 weeks to w/e 15 May 2011).


Dr ScharQ & A with…

Michelle Shinn, retail brand manager, Dr Schär UK

How has Dr. Schär UK continually innovated within the gluten free sector?
The free from market has traditionally had limited choice for those following a gluten free diet, but being at the forefront of the gluten and wheat free sector, we believe we’re a strong driving force in the market, with more than 30 years of heritage and expertise.

Dr. Schär has recently teamed up with Dunnes to launch the first ever frozen range of pizzas and garlic bread under our DS-gluten free brand.  From the sales figures we’ve seen so far and the feedback we’ve received from our consumers, we are confident that this new sector is a great addition to the free from market.

This year, following the success of our White Ciabatta Rolls in Dunnes, we have launched our DS-gluten free Brown Ciabatta Rolls. This product received an award for its taste and quality in the UK.

After identifying a gap in the savoury snacking market, we teamed up with Tesco to launch another new product, Glutafin Mini Crackers.  These are perfect for snacking on the go and come in a handy resealable bag. 

With a leading research and development facility, we continue to reformulate our brands’ products to bring about step changes in the quality of gluten free food.

How important is it to deliver a wide variety of gluten free choices for consumers?
With allergy awareness, coeliac disease and IBS diagnosis rates increasing, demand for gluten and wheat free foods is rising.
The free from sector has become more than a niche – approximately one in 100 people in  Ireland have coeliac disease and can’t eat gluten, while around 3% suffer from a food allergy or intolerance.  Those are big numbers and retailers are definitely seeing the value in ensuring they are properly catering for this customer base.

The free from category offers attractive profit opportunities for retailers who get the right mix of brands, products, display and promotions, and as category captain for Tesco ROI, Dr. Schär is always looking for new and innovative ways to drive the sector forward.

In the ROI, we are proud to be one of the only free from companies to provide a great variety of products in many categories including frozen, sweet biscuits, crackers, bread and cereals.

Is there a significant demand for frozen free from products in the Irish marketplace?

Frozen free from has grown by 17% in the last year in the UK and has a larger market share than other sectors such as pasta and cakes. UK major multiples realise the potential of gluten free frozen foods as a category and have listed our frozen DS-gluten free range and we are currently working with ROI retailers to follow suit.

Is value-for-money an important consideration for consumers when choosing gluten-free products?
Value-for-money has never been more important so our consumer reward scheme has worked well to sustain and build brand loyalty. Our subscribed database of customers receive below the line promotions and direct mail containing in-store money off coupons for new products. Plus, all newly diagnosed customers will receive a starter package from us containing great offers.
All our products have undergone years of research, development and testing to ensure they are of the high quality that our customers have come to trust. As a result this can force the price of products to be higher than non-gluten free food.

However, despite having a relatively high ticket price, the gluten free category in particular has proven largely recession-proof, primarily as it is based on medical necessity.

Consumers still often look for the reassurance of an established, heritage brand name such as DS-gluten free before trying something new and in a recent survey found that 70%* of customers said they would go elsewhere if a retailer did not stock the DS-gluten free products they like and trust.

*DS-gluten free consumer survey (2011)



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