Free to enjoy life

For some people, excluding gluten, dairy or meat from their diet is essential and for others it is a lifestyle choice but for whatever the reason, there is ever more plentiful brands on the market catering to this preference. Fionnuala Carolan looks at what’s happening in the ‘free from’ category at present


Brand Central

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21 June 2023

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Health and wellbeing continue to have an impact on consumer choices, but according to Bord Bia, convenience remains a priority for many households. Consumers want their food to be free from dairy, sugars and additives, but not free from taste and also available where they normally shop. Plant-based food has now gone mainstream and at last there are a multitude of companies catering for this ever-growing category. Aisling Cullen of Thanks Plants started up her business in response to the lack of good quality meat substitutes available in supermarkets in Ireland. She saw a gap in the market for vegan products that were both meaty in taste and made from wholefood ingredients. “I turned vegan a few years ago and was underwhelmed by the choice and quality of products available, I also found it hard to understand the list of ingredients on the packets. I started experimenting at home and made my own seitan sausages which were really tasty and had the all-important meaty flavour and texture. I also knew exactly what was going into them and ensured it was nutritious for me and my family.”

These small companies are now being listed across all retailers as it has become evident that there is a serious appetite for free from products and it doesn’t hurt their sustainability credentials either. The mainstream brands are also launching Free From products to stay abreast of new consumer trends.

Oaty goodness

The Avonmore Oat Drink is available in both Original and Barista options

Avonmore has entered the plant-based drinks sector with the launch of Avonmore Oat Drink made from quality Irish oats. Avonmore Oat Drink is available in both Original and Barista options. Both are lactose free, low in fat with no added sugar and are made from Irish oats.

The oats used in Avonmore Oat Drink are traceable to organic oat farms operated by parent company Tirlán’s quality oats growers. The ‘Original’ drink is fortified with calcium, whilethe ‘Barista’ option is specially formulated to be frothy and foamable – making it a suitable accompaniment for coffee drinks.

Speaking about the launch of Avonmore Oat Drink, Linda Sheehan, head of consumer
marketing at Tirlán said: “We are really excited to bring Avonmore Oat Drink to the market.

Avonmore is now offering its loyal consumers even more choice through the addition of a
plant-based offering to our portfolio. Avonmore is trusted by consumers to bring its farmer suppliers produce to kitchen tables and our high-quality oat ingredient is traceable back to Irish family farms.”

Avonmore has been providing nutritious products to Irish families for over 50 years. The
launch of its new Oat offering will address consumers desires for products in the plant space and further boost Avonmore’s presence in consumers shopping baskets.

Avonmore Oat Drink Original and Barista are available in 1L cartons in retailers nationwide.

For further information, visit Avonmore at: Instagram: @avonmore; Facebook: Avonmore
Milk; Twitter:@avonmoretaste; and website:

 Add some bite to your breakfast

Certified as gluten free by the Coeliac Society of Ireland, Flahavan’s Gluten Free Jumbo Oat Flakes are a larger, thicker oat flake

Gluten-free fans and coeliacs around the country are in for a treat as Flahavan’s launch its new Gluten Free Jumbo Irish Pure Oats. Made using only the highest quality Irish oats and certified as gluten free by the Coeliac Society of Ireland, Flahavan’s Gluten Free Jumbo Oat Flakes are a larger, thicker oat flake – ideal for porridge with more bite or an overnight oats with more texture. Jumbo Oat Flakes can also be used as an ingredient in home-baking to make flapjacks, crumbles or homemade granolas.

Flahavan’s Gluten Free Jumbo Irish Pure Oats (600g) is an excellent addition to the brand’s existing Flahavan’s Gluten Free Irish Pure Oats (550g), which is positioned in the free from section of supermarkets and has built a strong following of loyal consumers since its launch pre-Covid.

Gluten free by nature

Including milled flaxseed rather than whole flaxseed in your diet has proven much more beneficial for digestion.

Linwoods Flaxseed is a nutritious and versatile ingredient and is gluten-free by nature. Linwoods also use strict protocols to ensure there is no cross-contamination during processing or packaging and that this product is 100% organic, gluten free and vegan.

Linwoods cold original milled flaxseed blend is a versatile product popular for maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels and for its rich source of fibre and plant-based protein. When it comes to adding flaxseed to your diet, the best way to do this is by eating cold milled flaxseed which is where the seed has been blended to a powder like substance. Including milled flaxseed rather than whole flaxseed in your diet has proven much more beneficial for digestion.

In addition, Linwoods Cold Milled Flaxseed is prepared with great care through their unique cold milling process to unlock the benefits of the seed for easy digestion and to ensure the full nutrients remain intact.

Milled Flaxseed is a great natural source of Omega 3 Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) an essential fatty acid which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. As our bodies do not produce Omega 3 therefore this must be obtained from our food. One 20g serving of Linwoods Milled Flaxseed provides 4g of Omega 3 (ALA) in our daily diet.

Vegan soft serve

Dairyglen’s vegan soft-serve ice-cream is a great eco-friendly alternative to traditional dairy soft-serve, with the same great taste and usual creamy texture that Irish consumers love from a classic 99. Free from dairy, gluten and nuts but with the same luxurious, creamy flavour of the classic Irish 99 you know and love.

Not only does it expand your range as a business, and make you appeal to a growing food
demographic, but vegan soft serve has a margin of up to 80% so there’s significant
opportunity for proper growth as well. Based on oat or soy milk, it’s hard to tell this plant-
based mix from the dairy alternative and with a choice of powder or liquid formats, Dairyglen has got something suitable for everyone. This mix is 100% vegan certified, easy to use, ambient with a long-shelf life. For more information call Dairyglen’s head office at 01 286 5000.

Star starch

Chef Brian McDermott did cooking demonstrations on the Bord Bia Quality Kitchen Stage and afterwards visited the Meade Farm stand. Here he is pictured with Meade Farm’s Lucy McDonnell and Paddy Matthews

Meade Potato Starch, Ireland’s new must-have store cupboard ingredient for gluten-free consumers, has recently reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability by introducing a fully recyclable retail pack. Its sustainability credentials are already high; it is made with surplus potatoes and offers savings on food carbon miles because, as the only product of its kind in Ireland and the UK, it can replace imported starch and cornflour.

Lately potato starch is cropping up more and more in ingredient lists thanks to its popularity with gluten free foodies as a thickener for sauces and stews, a coating for frying and a baking ingredient. Trendy Korean and Japanese cuisines use it to give a non-greasy, light and crunchy coating when frying. Many chefs prefer it to cornflour because it is truly odourless, tasteless and colourless, adding good texture to recipes.

Produced by Meath-based growers and packers Meade Farm, Meade Potato Starch recently won a Gold Medal at the Irish Quality Food Awards in 2022 and was named the Foodservice Product of the Year in 2021.




According to Jonathon Fahy, Meade Potato Starch commercial manager: “Bord Bia’s Bloom attracted consumers looking to expand their food horizons and to support Irish producers.

Among them were home cooks following a gluten-free diet; we received a huge amount of positive feedback from this cohort at the show. Both people who have tried it already and those who had heard about it from Coeliac Society of Ireland were excited about its possibilities as a store cupboard staple to replace flour and cornflour in cooking and frying, as well as an ingredient in gluten-free baking.”

Initially offered only to foodservice and food manufacturers customers in bulk, the 250g retail pack is available at selected Tesco and Evergreen stores and will also be available in Aldi from 22 June. Any interested retail, foodservice or wholesale customers can contact Jonathon Fahy at or call 046 905 3198.

Fakeaway pizza

Italian master baker and founder of Pizza Da Piero, Piero De Vallier has used the long-fermentation process to create his sourdough starter

Pizza remains a staple in the weekly shop but Irish households are saying no to greasy take-away pizzas. Instead, the ‘fake-away’ pizza is made at home, with complete control over what goes on it. Your customers’ pizzas can be vegan, high protein, low calorie, sugar-free or simply, vegetarian.

Since 2007, Italian master baker and founder of Pizza Da Piero, Piero De Vallier has used the long-fermentation process to create his sourdough starter. This allows the gluten enzyme
to break down the starch in the dough before it is shaped, flattened and baked, leaving it more digestible.

Piero’s mini 5” and large 11” pizza bases are par-baked on a stone oven in his Dublin bakery. The five ingredients of flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and yeast, contain no preservatives, sugars or additives. These light, crispy sourdough pizza bases won’t sit in the stomach, the way others often do.

Piero’s pizza bases are vegan friendly, dairy-free and well-loved by Irish chefs and food writers. Piero was thrilled to win gold at Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards in 2020 and again in 2022.

Pizza da Piero pizza bases provide the perfect meal for the Irish shopper looking for a free from alternative that the whole household can enjoy. Within ten minutes, your customers can have an authentic Italian pizza night, satisfying everyone with a healthy, but tasty, pizza experience.

Tin full of goodness

One of the top food trends for 2023 is tinned fish. Shines Seafood, based in Killybegs, Co. Donegal is a family-run company whose products include wild Irish sardines and mackerel. Sardines in particular had fallen out of favour, but they are an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, essential for good heart and bone health.

The range includes 106g tins of Wild Irish sardines in olive oil, sunflower oil and tomato sauce and retail from €2.59. The mackerel comes in 125g tins in tomato sauce, sunflower oil and brine and cost €2.99 RRP. They are available in shops nationwide and online at

A real Delite!

Phoenix Delite can cater for corporate gifts ranging from chocolate boxes for employees to gift hamper

Phoenix Delite offers a range of free from products including quality chocolates and chocolate bars which are also diabetic friendly and 100% vegan. They also offer no added sugar jams (strawberry, cherry and exotic), which are diabetic friendly, gluten free and vegan.

Also in the range is chocolate covered hazelnuts which are 100% vegan, gluten free and palm oil free. The popular Yummy gummy bears are diabetic friendly, gluten free and vegan and suitable for PKU. Phoenix Delite offers bespoke packaging and can cater for corporate gifts ranging from chocolate boxes for employees to gift hampers for customers and corporate clients. For more information, email

Make way for meatless meats

Now it’s even easier to get your hands on your favourite Thanks Plants products – meatless meats full of great ingredients. The Irish brand will have its range available in 157 Aldi stores nationwide from 25 May 2023.

Thanks Plants is passionate about plant-based, vegan cooking, and wanted to come up with a product that was wholesome and flavourful. Honest ingredients and cherished recipes. All products are handmade in a professional kitchen in Dublin by Aisling Cullen and her team.

According to Cullen: “We are so excited about this partnership with Aldi, who is really supportive towards Irish brands. Plus, the fact that plant-based food has now gone mainstream is a dream come true for me, the fact that we get to have our products on shelves is huge for us and part of our plan for growth. We will be showcasing our Frankfurters, NoMoooo Burgers and Chorizo Crumbles in Aldi for the next six months.”

Thanks Plants will stock the new Chorizo Crumbles at Aldi and Supervalu stores. The Chorizo Crumbles are a plant-based meaty crumble alternative which can be a flavoursome addition as a pizza topping, in a burrito, for breakfast with your scramble or on top of loaded fries.

The Thanks Plants range started with three types of sausages – Apple & Sage, Sundried
Tomato & Herb and The Frankfurter – made from a simple mix of seitan flour (a high protein flour), cannellini beans, vegetables and spices. The range has now expanded to include Chipotle Salsa Sausages, NoMoooo Burger, and Everyday Roast.

The Promise of goodness

The gluten free market has grown 50% in the past four years, according to Kantar

From its bakery in northwest Ireland, Promise Gluten Free prides itself on baking best-in-class and multi-award winning better-for-you baked goods.

Many brands talk about ‘better for you’ but very often this is not backed up in the product delivery when it comes to taste and nutritional content. Promise Gluten Free delivers a taste profile which consumers love and levels of nutrition far ahead of the category. The company is delivering something breakthrough for the gluten free category that historically has been poorly served.

Prior to the re-launch four years ago, the Irish gluten free market was stagnant. Since then,

Kantar data reveals that the value of the category has grown by 50%, and this growth has
substantially been driven by the Promise Gluten Free brand, with Promise’s market share
growing fivefold in that time.

Promise Gluten Free launched its biggest ever marketing campaign earlier this year, called
‘Better Bread, That’s A Promise’. Over the years Promise had received countless messages
from happy Promise Gluten Free consumers who’ve shared their love for Promise Gluten
Free products and the positive impact they’ve had on their lives. With the aim of reaching an even broader audience, the team came up with an idea – who better to test the qualities of Promise Gluten Free than the people who know it best?

So, in January 2022, they asked customers to provide feedback on what they enjoyed about the products and how they had influenced their lives. Hundreds of people from all over Ireland shared incredible stories about how Promise Gluten Free had transformed their lives and the campaign was centred around sharing these real consumer stories with the rest of the world.

These stories have touched the lives of 3.5 million people through social media, with dozens of positive comments and shares. The campaign also ran across radio, outdoor and
sponsorships. 38% more consumers came into the Promise brand as result.

Promise Gluten Free has Global presence, continuing to lead the growth in gluten free
bakery, leading with breakthrough innovation and growing at 40%+ year-to-date (YTD).




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