Bord Bia has been working to identify modern food trends around the world
Bord Bia has been working to identify modern food trends around the world

Health-conscious eating has seen explosive growth in recent years, with bigger supermarkets often stocking an entire section of dairy substitutes and alternatives. Smaller stores are cottoning on to the possibilities too now, as demand grows stronger every year, writes Doug Whelan


Brand Central

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24 July 2017 | 0

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In one of its latest Insights projects, Bord Bia has published extensive research regarding shoppers’ habits in the area of gluten free and other free-from shopping. According to the research, gluten free has now “gone mainstream”, with one in five Irish people shopping for gluten free food regularly. The market in Ireland is estimated to be worth some €66m, having experienced a 36% increase year-on-year.

Paula Donoghue, consumer insight manager for Bord Bia, says that gluten-free offerings were originally only available in pharmacies. “Now,” she says,“there is proliferation right across the retail chain.

“The market has experienced an increase in the number of available products,” Donoghue continues, “as well as double digit growth in supermarkets. There is a lot of noise around the topic, whether it is from celebrity advocates such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Novak Djokovic, or chefs, nutritionists and bloggers.”

Despite only 1% of the Irish population having been medically diagnosed with coeliac disease, the research found that a glutenfree diet is particularly popular amongst the upper and middle class earners, over indexing in the Munster area. The desire for a healthy lifestyle is the key driver according to the research, with Donoghue noting the statistic that 87% of respondents believe they have a healthy diet. Some 78% of Irish people who follow a glutenfree diet are not diagnosed as coeliac. Nearly half of these (38%) do not have any intolerance to wheat or sensitivities, but perceive gluten free to be a healthier lifestyle choice.

For more than 35 years, Schär’s researchers have been working to develop and distribute high-quality products made from premium ingredients that cater to special nutritional needs

The need for education has come to the fore in the study, as many respondents could not articulate what gluten was. However, they were confident about where to both find and avoid it. Those that do not follow a gluten-free diet believe it is a fad, expensive and that it doesn’t taste as good, while also determining that gluten-free products may have higher sugar and fat content.Paula Donoghue says that Irish food companies can help play a part in addressing any confusion on their specific product offerings.

In connection with this research, this month we bring you the latest and essential free-from, gluten-free and other healthy options and innovations that supermarkets and grocery stores should be providing to their customers.

The joy of living!

For more than 35 years, Schär has been dedicating its resources to the development of products for special nutritional needs. To do this, the company’s researchers have been working to develop and distribute highquality products made from premium ingredients to create a balanced diet. Schär’s highquality standards have set the benchmark. Day after day, the company offers its customers the best gluten free taste for the happy moments in their lives.

Schär believes that health and quality of life are two sides of the same coin. Its products and the entire Schär production chain are 100% gluten-free; the company is also a champion in taste and variety.

Some individuals see their nutritional needs in terms of healthy and careful eating, without sacrificing fun and tasty moments. With the widest gluten-free product range, Schär is just the brand for that kind of objective. To order Schär for your store, contact Brandshapers on 053 9179007 or email

Healthy response
While it is estimated that only 4-5% of the population are lactose intolerant, it’s believed a much larger percentage consider themselves to have some level of lactose intolerance or sensitivity. Avonmore Lactose Free milk was launched in response to this consumer need and is now the number one lactose free dairy milk in the market. Some dairy-free alternatives on the market involve a compromise on nutrition and taste as a result of their lactose-free formulation. But with 1% fat along with calcium, protein and vitamins B12 and B2, Avonmore Lactose Free milk not only delivers the same nutritional benefits as regular milk, but also provides the same great taste and freshness too.

This summer, Avonmore is launching a new campaign for Lactose Free milk, consisting of radio, print, digital, social and PR. This comprehensive campaign will be supported with a nationwide shopping centre roadshow, where consumers can sample the product and get advice from an expert nutritionist on managing their lactose intolerance.

Naturally free

Birds Eye is the clear market leader in fish fingers with a MAT value share of 74%*. Now, the brand has extended its range to include a gluten-free variety.
In keeping with the quality expected from the wider Birds Eye Fish Finger range, the Gluten Free variety is made with 100% fish fillet and without any compromise on taste or crispiness.

All sizes of Potato Waffles now offer a gluten-free option on shelves

The Gluten Free variety also carries the newly-launched fish finger pack design, featuring a strong representation of iconic Captain Birdseye and appetising food photography, along with clever colour coding to differentiate between varieties.

Another market leader, Birds Eye Potato Waffles, with 88% MAT* value share, is naturally free from gluten. The entire range, from the classic, four, 10 and 18 packs to Mini Waffles and the recently relaunched old favourite Alphabites are all naturally gluten-free.

The Gluten Free Fish Fingers packaging features a strong design revampAll Birds Eye Gluten Free products are accredited by the Coeliac Society of Ireland, and feature in the organisation’s 2017 Approved Food List.

The “heat free” effect

The Coldpress juice brand has been a significant beneficiary of the flourishing free-from phenomenon. The movement has seen a dynamic return to ‘real food values’, which are all about a greater understanding and appreciation of good-tasting, nutritionally well-rounded food and drink. Only a few months, Coldpress picked up the award for best free-from drink at the prestigious 2017 Food Matters awards some months ago.

The free-from movement began as a rejection of gluten and wheat as ‘needless’ and often health affecting ingredients, a dynamic cause that quickly grew to encapsulate otherequally well-intentioned minority groups such as lactose-free, nut free, meat free. In essence, free-from offers unequivocal label transparency and integrity.

The Coldpress range uses FRR as an alternative to pasteurisation, which can affect the quality and flavour of a drink

Coldpress is a leading light in the ‘heat free’ movement, the latest disciple to the wider free-from cause. Pasteurisation, for all its good intentions (removing unhelpful bacteria) was inadvertently suppressing and destroying many of the essential vitamins, nutrients and tastes that were making recipes so well-rounded in the first place. HPP (high pressure processing) is a natural, ecofriendly alternative that dispenses of harmful bacteria via a short sweet burst of hydrostatic pressure.

Within a specialist field like free-from, ‘cold pressure’ drinks are re-energising the chilled juice aisle, which has been a casualty of competition to reduce sugar in soft drinks and juices in recent
years. Coldpress’ manufacturers say it is tackling a knee-jerk reaction against the unavoidable truth that a daily drink of juice is vital for one’s ongoing wellbeing.

When compared to its pasteurised peers, Coldpress offers a taste and nutritional clout, meaning less calories and sugar need to be consumed to meet daily requirements. The brand has launched a range of varieties and flavours including almond drinks for the lactose intolerant community, easy drinking veggie juices, fruit-juice themed coconut waters and low-cal soft drinks. All of these make up an affordable everyday range with broad appeal.

Coldpress won Gold at the 2017 Free From Food Awards

Coldpress recommends that retailers consider HPP as part of their wider juice offering. As well as giving scope to stand out from the competition, it shows a store to have its finger on the pulse of healthy living trends. It also offers healthy margins and has a superior shelf life to pasteurised products, which contributes to reduced wastage.

Wake up to goodness!

As we have already seen, the popularity of non-dairy is growing at an explosive rate in Europe. Between 2014 and 2015, the segment grew by 21%*. Dream plant-based drinks are a great match for a healthy lifestyle and are delicious served in smoothies, porridge, tea and coffee, and with baking and cooking.

The entire Dream range is dairy-free, gluten-free and soyafree. The original Rice Dream Organic is made with just four ingredients: water, organic rice, organic sunflower oil and organic salt.

With the growth in oat and nutbased drinks, Dream has launched an oat gluten-free drink and an almond, coconut & cashew drink blended with rice. Dream ricebased drinks are made by fermenting the rice allowing the rice to release its own natural sugars to give a naturally sweet flavour.

Available in supermarkets and foodservice in Ireland, it is an easy way to add a little change into one’s daily routine. Stafford Lynch is the distributor for Dream in Ireland.

Epicurean edge
Estrella Damm, the beer of Barcelona, is the official beer partner and sponsor of Food on the Edge 2017. The annual food symposium, which returns to Galway this October, brings together Irish and international chefs and culinary enthusiasts to shape and create the future of food.

Founded by restauranteur and chef JP McMahon, Food on the Edge 2017 will this year centre on the theme of ‘Action and Reaction’. The event has grown in momentum in recent years and now attracts international speakers and audiences. More than 400 chefs, restauranteurs, suppliers, media and food influencers from around the globe will be in attendance this year.

The partnership with Food on the Edge is in keeping with Estrella Damm’s international strategy to link gastronomy with the brand. The beer has a strong relationship with the culinary world, hosting the annual Estrella Damm Gastronomy Congress and having previously collaborated with critically-acclaimed chefs including Ferran Adrià, the Roca brothers and José Pizarro.

Distributed exclusively in Ireland by Molson Coors, Estrella Damm is brewed in Barcelona using the original 1876 recipe and 100% natural ingredients: barley malt, rice and hops. The quality of the ingredients is of utmost importance to the brewers who source barley from local farmers and use rice grown in the Spanish Ebro Delta. Estrella Damm also owns its own Malthouse and produces its own yeast, which is used in the beer’s fermentation process.

Seamus Harahan, world brand manager at Molson Coors Ireland, said the company is excited to announce Estrella Damm as the beer partner and sponsor for Food on the Edge 2017. “This symposium champions not only the international food community,” Harahan said, “but also all the complementary elements which make a culinary experience special.”

“Estrella Damm has long enjoyed a reputation as the perfect beer accompaniment, and so we look forward to exploring this further with JP and the many delegates in attendance, whilst showcasing our brand on a domestic and international stage.”

Food on the Edge, now in its fourth year, takes place in Galway city on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 October 2017, featuring 50 chefs and guest speakers from the culinary world including Magnus Nilsson of Sweden’s acclaimed two Michelin star Faviken restaurant, ‘World’s Best Female Chef’ Ana Ros and executive chef of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Ashley Palmer-Watts. The official symposium launch event takes place in London on May 8, followed by a local launch in Galway this August.

Estrella Damm is currently available in bars, restaurants and off-licences throughout Ireland. Find out more at or

Q&A with . . .
FERGAL O’SULLIVAN, CEO of the Coeliac Society of Ireland

Q. Coeliac disease is often misunderstood and misreported; what is it and how many suffer from this in Ireland?
Coeliac disease is estimated to affect 47,500 people in Ireland. It is an autoimmune disease, where gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is harmful to those affected. The disease can manifest itself at any stage in a person’s lifetime, with symptoms including abdominal pain, recurring mouth-ulcers, weight-loss, vomiting and diarrhoea. The longer-term health implications of undiagnosed coeliac disease are far reaching and can include fertility issues, osteoporosis and anaemia.
Q. What is life like for a person with the disease?
There is no cure for coeliac disease and the only treatment is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. This can be a difficult adjustment, as gluten is in many everyday products including; bread, pasta, gravy, soya sauce and beer. ‘Hidden gluten’ can also be in products you wouldn’t expect including some condiments and confectionery. To assist with this, the Coeliac Society produces an annual Food List of gluten-free products. The 2017 edition contains over 6,425 products. We encourage all our members to use this list carefully, in conjunction with diligently reading the food labels. Many of those recently diagnosed coeliac disease are concerned about eating out of home and effectively handing over responsibility for their food preparation to a complete stranger. While the situation is improving, there is a need for greater education in the catering industry. The Coeliac Society is working to improve this situation and has produced a catering guide in collaboration with Unilever Food  Services. We hope to work in collaboration with the sector to build on this awareness and training in the coming months. If a person diagnosed as coeliac accidently consumes gluten, they may become very ill with symptoms including; stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Others may not experience symptoms but the gluten could still cause internal damage to the gut. Those diagnosed are advised to visit their GP for annual blood tests to ensure optimum health.

Q. What work does the Coeliac Society do to promote awareness?
The society has over 4,000 active members and we work on their behalf, providing support and advice by phone, e-mail and online. We run an annual Awareness Week campaign each May. This year, the campaign focused on the ‘Faces of Coeliac Disease’ by highlighting the fact that coeliac disease can occur at any life stage and is a life-long condition. We regularly appear on media during Awareness Week and throughout the year; highlighting the symptoms of coeliac disease and urging those affected to get tested. We also advocate on behalf of our members, meeting with government officials and other organisations who can help, including the HSE and the Catering Management Association. The society will be attending and speaking at the 2017 Irish College of General Practitioners summer seminar, encouraging the medical community to ‘Think, Test, Treat’coeliac disease, improving rates of diagnosis. The society recently launched an online self-assessment tool, The tool helps people check their symptoms and determine if they could have coeliac disease. Based on their answers to a simple test, individuals will be advised if they should visit their GP to be tested and are provided with a short document to bring with them.

Fergal is pictured with Finn Ni Fhaolain, author of gluten-free cookbook Finn’s World.

Q. The Coeliac Society recently launched its Gluten Free Promise project for retailers, during Coeliac Awareness Week. What is the Gluten Free Promise?
When it comes to food shopping, many people with coeliac disease have difficulties searching for basic gluten-free essentials and often have to visit more than one supermarket. Launched during Awareness Week 2017, the Gluten Free Promise asks retailers to commit to stocking a minimum of eight staple food products in a basket of groceries that are gluten-free, all year round. To date, SuperValu and Aldi have signed up to the campaign and we are hopeful many others will soon follow suit.

The society is asking retailers to sign up to the Gluten Free Promise, to make life easier for consumers with the disease.

Q. What is the society’s longterm objective, beyond the Gluten Free Promise?
Our objective is to make the lives of those affected by coeliac disease as easy as possible. This involves increasing access to gluten free products and improving levels of awareness among the retail sector, the catering industry, the medical profession and wider population. Following a gluten free diet for medical reasons is a challenge and should not be confused with doing so for lifestyle reasons; there is no choice or option for someone with coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is estimated to affect 1% of the population (47,500 people in Ireland) and we know up to a third of these people have not been diagnosed. Improving rates of diagnosis by increasing awareness of the disease and its symptoms is a key priority.

Good to go
Juvela has launched an innovative new free-from range designed to appeal to those customers looking for healthy food snacking choices on the go. The new Juvela Good’n’go range includes fruit & oat bars, crispbreads and fruit & oat smoothies.

This new range is the latest addition to Juvela’s glutenfree foods, which were big winners in the Free From Food Awards 2017 picking up one gold and two silvers. The range has been developed in response to demand for convenient, great-tasting, onthe-go snacks with healthy nutritional profiles. The new range features contemporary, eyecatchingpackaging that is designed to stand out on shelf.

There are three varieties of Juvela Good’n’go Crispbreads: Chia seed, Linseed, and Oat Crispbread. The three variants are gluten free Ryvita* style crispbread with added health benefits. The crispbreads are all dairy free, high in fibre, low in sugar and low in fat.

The Chia Crispbread contain chia seeds which are a good source of fibre and nutrients that are key to good health. Similarly, linseeds, added to the Linseed Crispbread, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and essential nutrients. The Oat crispbread is made from gluten-free pure oats. The crispbreads are perfect for lunchboxes or snacking on the go. The Good’n’go Smoothies are an innovative, tasty snack made from pure gluten-free oats and a delicious combination of fruits. There are three varieties: Mango & Passionfruit, Blueberry, Apple & Mint, and Raspberry, Pear & Aronia. Due to the clever pouch packaging these smoothies can be kept at room temperature and are perfect for lunchboxes and sports bags.

There are three 35g soft oat bars in the range: Orange & Apple, Blackcurrant & Cocoa. These healthy bars are gluten free and contain no added sugar.

The launch will be supported by press advertising, social media campaign and extensive product sampling.

Long-awaited line
Five years ago, in Siobhán Joyce’s Galway kitchen, Bowl-a-Granola was created. These humble beginnings were a result of Joyce simply wanting a granola that was free from refined sugar and wheat. This was not available on the market at the time, so she took it upon herself to do something about it. Since then, the distinctive brand has become a recognisable and trusted granola and muesli to both Irish and UK consumers.

This June, Bowl-a-Granola is expanding its product line and is introducing its first gluten-free variety. The gluten-free line was officially launched at the 2017 Bloom Festival and has since been introduced across stores. Joyce herself explains how the brand’s best seller is Honey & Cinnamon, which won Silver at the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards in 2013. “This is the product we are adding to our existing line,” she says, “but using gluten free oats. It has been requested by our customers many times, so having a glutenfree line has been one of our biggest targets over the past five years. We are delighted now that we can finally offer our favourite Bowl-a-Granola in gluten free format.”

In its infancy, Bowl-a-Granola was produced predominately for sale at farmer’s markets. Today, the award winning range is available throughout Ireland and in select stores in the UK. While it is no longer made at Siobhán Joyce’s home, Bowl-a-Granola is still handmade and roasted in small batches. Bowl-a-Granola’s breakfast cereals are made with Irish oats and are lightly sweetened with a drizzle of honey. The existing wheat-free range has four varieties, with or without  dried fruit. Also included in the range is Bowl-a-Muesli which only contains the sweetness of dried fruit.



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