Free to enjoy!

The free from category, which includes free from allergens, free from gluten, free from lactose, free from dairy and free from meat products, is continuing to grow, with further positive development expected over next five years’ forecast, according to Euromonitor Ireland. Here, we highlight the brands that continue to innovate to meet this growing demand


Brand Central

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30 July 2020

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Irish consumers have been actively exploring free from products in recent years, be it for health, lifestyle or dietary reasons. According to the 2019 ‘Free From in Ireland’ report from Euromonitor, the strongest growth in the category comes from milk alternatives. Moreover, plant-based diets are pushing innovation in the sector, as producers have been concocting savvy replacements for meat, eggs and dairy. Meanwhile, the global appetite for gluten free food products is increasing at an annual rate of 9.1%. By 2025, the market is projected to be worth €29.12 billion.* With so many appetising free from products on the market, shoppers have become more discerning and will simply vote with their feet if retailers don’t have the right range of best-selling brands in stock.

Double digit growth

Our feature this month includes gluten-free/wheat free, dairy-free/lactose-free and products suitable for those with allergies and intolerances. Showing the importance of the gluten free sector, the Coeliac Society of Ireland reports this country has 50,000 coeliac disease sufferers and 350,000 others who are gluten intolerant. What’s more, Bord Bia research published in 2017 showed 20% of Irish people shop for gluten free food regularly, with the retail market valued at €66m and experiencing double digit growth each year. And while roughly one in every 100 people in Ireland has Coeliac disease, the Coeliac Society states that as many as 37,000 people remain undiagnosed, showing the potential for further growth that exists.

Bord Bia researched consumer attitudes to gluten free food for the first time back in 2017, and the findings from this study remain relevant today. Highlighting where the sector’s growth has come from, Paula Donoghue, Bord Bia’s consumer insight manager said: “Traditionally, gluten free offerings were only available in pharmacies or health food stores, whereas now there is proliferation right across the retail chain. The market has experienced an increase in the number of available products 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.”

Increasingly conscious of diet

Despite only 1% of the Irish population having been medically diagnosed with coeliac disease, the research found that a gluten free diet is particularly popular amongst the upper and middle class earners, over-indexing in the Munster area and amongst pre and older families. The desire for a healthy lifestyle is the key driver according to the research, with Donoghue noting: “As a nation, we’re increasingly conscious of our diet with 87% believing we have a healthy diet. Some 78% of Irish people who follow a gluten free 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.”

Additional findings from Bord Bia’s research included:

  • The main reasons people choose to follow a gluten free diet relate to lifestyle (38%) encompassing those with no symptoms, those that are gluten intolerant / sensitive (40%) with moderate symptoms and those with coeliac disease or a wheat allergy (22%).
  • When asked what is important to them when shopping, respondents ranked clear information, ingredients and taste; followed by price and Irish-ness.
  • One in four gluten free shoppers strongly agree they are conscious in terms of what they eat and drink, significantly more than non-gluten free shoppers.
  • Some 65% of shoppers want to see gluten free products in one specific area of a store.

A recent study by Mintel reached a similar conclusion about the category’s strength and further potential. According to Aisling Kearney, research analyst: “The Irish free from market has enjoyed growth over recent years, driven by ‘lifestylers’ and wider availability of products in supermarkets. Mintel expects growth to continue.”

Plant-based growth

Our feature this month also covers a number of leading meat free and vegan brands. As many Irish folks transition to a more plant-based diet out of health, animal or environmental concern, an enticing in-store vegan range has never been more essential. While Bord Bia estimated that 8% of the Irish population were vegetarian and another 2% vegan in 2018, the appetite for vegan foods is larger than veganism itself. Indeed, 92% of plant-based meals consumed in the UK in 2018 were eaten by non-vegans. Further, plant-based food consumption increased by 300% between 2017 and 2018, according to research from Foodable Labs. In 2019, Mintel Research reported that the term ‘vegan’ was the third fastest growing on-pack claim for food and drink launches over the last five years.

*(Source: Grand View Research. Gluten-Free Products Market Size Worth $32.39 Billion By 2025. 2019)

Shaping up nicely

Brandshapers has proudly been recognised as one of Ireland’s fastest-growing providers of sales, marketing and distribution services across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The company has been a leading supplier of products in the health and wellness category for over 10 years; working with a range of local and international brands to meet the needs of Irish consumers and retailers. During this time, Brandshapers has seen a category that was once a niche area evolve to become more mainstream as more and more Irish consumers look to live a healthier lifestyle.  Its range of brand partners covers a variety of dietary needs including healthier alternatives, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and vegan.

Brandshapers is delighted to showcase its free from partner brands including Nakd and Trek bars, Ellas Kitchen, Doves Farm, BFree, Bear Nibbles, Lo Bros Kombucha, Nutty Bruce Milks and Chia Bia Seeds, in this edition of ShelfLife.

To find out more information about the diverse categories and brands that Brandshapers works with, visit the website

Sowing the seeds for success

Since launching in 2009, Chia Bia has grown the Irish chia seed category to over a 30% market share of the branded seed market

Irish health food company Chia Bia has supplied high quality chia seeds internationally for over 10 years. Chia Bia entered the non-existent European chia seed market in 2009. A combination of chia seed education, engaging marketing campaigns and NPD have seen the company grow the Irish chia seed category to over a 30% market share of the branded seed market.

Brandshapers is excited to announce its appointment as Chia Bia’s Irish distributor in 2020. “Since our partnership with Brandshapers earlier this year, we have met and built strong relationships with retailers across the country and we are looking forward to activating new consumer campaigns to further drive sales,” says Barrie Rogers, Chia Bia owner.

Nutty Bruce uses organic almonds to create a creamy milk alternative

Good for the soul

Soulfresh’s mission is to change the way people eat and drink for the better, that’s why it is disrupting the largest food and beverage categories with healthier alternatives that reflect the wishes of today’s consumers, particularly those focused on a lifestyle of health and sustainability. In Ireland, Soulfresh’s two core brands are Lo Bros Kombucha and Nutty Bruce Milks.

With over 100 million living cultures (probiotics) per bottle, Lo Bros Kombucha is a naturally low sugar drink that is certified organic, vegan and contains no artificial ingredients. It has a wonderfully complex depth of flavour and comes in many popular flavours, including Ginger & Lemon, Raspberry & Lemon, Passion fruit and Cola.

Nutty Bruce is a range of plant milks that uses a high percentage of whole organic, activated almonds to create a deliciously thick and creamy milk alternative without using any gums, thickeners or stabilisers.

Fun nutrition

Ella’s Kitchen dairy free range is packed full of fruity taste and creamy coconut milk

Ella’s Kitchen has introduced a new deliciously dairy free range.

The brand has created a yummy Banana Yogurt Alternative, a perfect Pear & Fig Porridge, and a tasty Rice Pudding with Bananas & Strawberries. All of these are packed full of exciting fruity taste and creamy coconut ‘moo-ilk’.

Ella’s Kitchen has used its weaning expertise to design these specifically for babies and to make sure there is lots of variety for little ones who are dairy free or have a dairy intolerance.

Bear necessities

Bear Yoyos are 100% pure fruit and vegetables

Bear Yoyos are 100% pure fruit and veg with absolutely nothing else. A Bear Yoyo is one of an individual’s five-a-day and contains no concentrates or added sugar.

They are made using fruits and vegetables that are picked perfectly ripe and in season. These are then blended and gently mixed with other tasty fruits, and baked slowly at a low temperature. Finally, they are hand rolled for cubs to enjoy!

Bear Yoyos contain no nuts, dairy or gluten whatsoever. As they are made and packed in a completely sealed-off area, there is no chance of contamination. At Bear, the team aims to produce snacks that are as close to being allergen free as possible, so that all our cubs can enjoy them, even those with dietary requirements.

Shoppers can get their paws on a variety of Yoyo flavours in single packs, multi-packs and family packs.

Living free

BFree’s goal is to inspire free living, with an award-winning range

In a world where people want great-tasting healthy food as part of a lifestyle that is about living better, BFree exists to inspire and empower living free.

When BFree opened its doors in 2011, the company’s goal was to bring customers the best gluten and wheat free alternatives for their everyday favourite baked goods. Its award-winning range now stretches from loaves to pittas to pizza bases to wraps, to name just a few.

Using the finest, hand-selected ingredients, BFree has crafted bakery products that not only taste good but are also healthy for you. It never compromises on taste, quality or freshness which has secured listings nationally. BFree’s products have the added benefits of being vegan friendly, dairy free and nut free.

The brand recently introduced two loaves to the range, the White Sourdough loaf and the Wholegrain Sourdough loaf which are both proving extremely popular.

All of BFree’s product range is ambient and shelf-stable with the option of freezing products for up to a year.

Freee is the UK’s number one gluten free flour range

Simple, natural and delicious

Leading gluten free food brand Freee believes gluten free food should be simple, natural and delicious. It has created a range of tasty, award-winning foods for the whole day including flour, bread and cake baking mixes, breakfast cereals, oat bars, cookies, and pasta. Perfected over more than 40 years, the UK’s number one gluten free flour range* includes specialist naturally gluten free flour blends like Self-Raising, Plain, White Bread and Brown Bread as well as popular options like Buckwheat and Rice Flour. Gluten Free Flour has also experienced exceptional increase in demand over the last few months. For those new to gluten free baking or short on time, the mixes range has proved very popular. Freee’s whole range is certified by Coeliac UK and is suitable for vegans. There are also many organic options available.

*(Source: Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 22 March 2020)

Trek’s Protein Nut Bars contain less than 5g of natural sugar and 10g of plant-based protein

Long lasting energy

Trek believes in snacks that are better for you and better for the environment. Trek provides products with natural, long lasting energy that sticks with you, empowering you to enjoy and get the most out of every moment. Whenever or wherever consumers need it, Trek keeps you going and will never let you down, using only natural ingredients.

In an increasingly active nation with a strong tendency of snacking, Trek’s Protein Nut Bars are the perfect choice for any time of the day. These tasty bars are made with all natural, vegan and gluten free ingredients, with less than 5g of natural sugar and 10g of plant-based protein. The bars come in four perfectly balanced flavours – Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate & Orange, Blueberry & Pumpkin Seed and Coconut & Raspberry.

Nakd bars contain 100% natural ingredients, with no added sugar or syrups

Mind blown

Nakd bars are made from 100% natural ingredients – just fruits and nuts smooshed together with no added sugar or sticky syrups. Nakd wants everyone to find their “snack soulmate”. Everything the company makes is therefore gluten free, dairy free and vegan. The range comes in a wide range of tasty flavours so if you prefer nutty, fruity, cakey or chocolatey tastes, then there is something for everyone.

Nakd is confident its Blueberry Muffin is unmatchable in fruity taste and luxurious texture. Bursting with blueberries, this bar is the perfect treat to indulge in when consumers are looking for something a little sweet and easy to eat, not to mention super healthy as it counts for one of an individual’s five-a-day.

One of the newest members of the Nakd family is the Salted Caramel bar. These tasty bars are decadently delicious, and according to the brand, will leave you wanting more and more. Some things can be both naughty and nice!

Gliding ahead

With an ABV of 4.2%, Hüfi Beer contains only 140 calories per 50cl can

The Irish grocery market has seen a conscious move to healthier options with big increases in zero alcohol, gluten free, vegan, dairy free and more. Hüfi fits into this lifestyle choice and is recognised by this market with 100%+ growth in the last year alone. The brand’s four-pack 50cl cans work well in this category and will only improve over the coming months and years.

Hüfi Beer is currently Ireland’s top selling vegan-friendly, gluten free beer which takes its name from the Hüfi Glacier in the Swiss Alps. Now available in a convenient four-pack of cans, it has an ABV of 4.2%, the same as most standard beers. However, Hüfi contains only 140 calories per 50cl can, making it one of the lowest calorie beers on the Irish market.

Hüfi is stocked in SuperValu, Centra, Dunnes Stores, Spar, Londis, O’Briens, Fine Wines, Molloys and other independents. Stockists can avail of a variety of POS including; free-standing shop tidies, posters and shelf strips. You can find more information on Hüfi Beer on its Facebook or Instagram pages or by visiting

Crisps everyone can enjoy

Clintons crisps do not contain any allergens, with no gluten, dairy or eggs

When Clintons set about making the great crisps it is known for, the team decided from the start that they wanted a crisp that everybody can enjoy. That is why Clintons crisps do not contain any allergens; that’s right, no gluten, dairy, eggs…. the list goes on.

What’s more, Clintons crisps are cooked in pure rapeseed oil, for a fuller flavour and extra crunch. All its products are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Clintons likes to keep it simple, but do it right, stating: “We’re about the down to earth, delicious crisp.”

The brand’s main distributor is Stafford Lynch. Clintons crisps are now stocked in selected SuperValu, BWG and Avoca stores and independent outlets through Innovative Brands.

For further information, visit, Facebook: and Instagram: @clintonscrisps.

Spicing up the market

Vada Pow is gluten free and suitable for vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians

Vada Pow frozen products are available in 200 stores nationwide. The range includes Spiced Potato Cakes, Sweet Potato Burgers, Croquette Tikka Masala and Mumbai Potato Pie. Vada Pow’s ‘Bombay style street food’ products cater for all dietary requirements i.e. vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians and gluten free. These products fit this growing sector of the market. Impressively, the Sweet Potato Burger won the silver award in the meat-free alternatives category at the Free From Foods Ireland Awards. The Vada Pow range is very different from stereotypical Indian curry products and the name Vada Pow originated from the word ‘Vada Pav’ which is a famous patty and bun street food of Mumbai.

The products fit with the ethos of this Irish company as Vada Pow was founded with a simple vision: Food is to be good, not just in taste but for the body and the soul. These products are made with wholesome ingredients which makes for an easy customer choice. Indian street food which is growing in popularity and identified as a new food trend, caters for people’s curiosity and allows them to experiment and explore new foods. Vada Pow was named the Best New Food and Drink Start-Up at the ShelfLife C-Store Awards in 2019.

The Birds Eye Meat-Free Burgers deliver on taste

Making mealtimes quicker and simpler

With the new Birds Eye Green Cuisine Meal Kits, consumers can create tasty meat-free versions of classic dinnertime favourites

2020 has seen Birds Eye extend its focus into plant-based foods with the launch of the Birds Eye Green Cuisine range of meat substitutes and veg foods. The ‘Whoops, I’m a bit Veggie’ campaign has driven widespread awareness and trial, through dedicated creative that focuses on taste without taking themselves too seriously!

The most recent launch to Birds Eye’s plant-based Green Cuisine range includes Meat Free Meal Kits, Vegan Sausage Rolls and Meat-Free Chicken Pies.

Keen to make mealtimes quicker and simpler, the new Birds Eye Green Cuisine Meal Kits have been designed to help consumers create delicious meat-free versions of classic dinnertime favourites, such as Bolognese and Lasagne. The new range features three dinnertime staples that can be cooked up in just 8-10 minutes, including a Bolognese Mix, Mexican-style ‘Fajita’ Mix, and Chilli Mix. The versatile mixes can be used in a wide range of dishes and are made from a meat substitute that is rich in pea protein, low in saturated fat and is a source of fibre, along with vegetables and tasty sauces.

Support integrates TV, online video, social, content partnerships, shopper and promotional support and will continue to run throughout 2020.

Mighty meatless option

Goodfella’s Meatless Mediterranean Pizza is topped with ‘mince’ made from pea protein

We all deserve good pizza – but for Irish consumers cutting down on meat and dairy, it can be hard to find a mouth-watering pizza that meets the demands of their taste buds.

Frozen pizza masters Goodfella’s has got it covered, with the launch of its first frozen pizza to feature pea protein ‘mince’ – a meat substitute packed full of flavour and texture. Unlike other meat alternatives, the pea protein mince contains no soy, making it the perfect option for shoppers with a soy allergy.

The new Goodfella’s Meatless Mediterranean Pizza includes a stone-baked thin base topped with tomato sauce, pea protein mince, chargrilled red and yellow peppers, tomato, red onion, oregano and finished with a salsa verde drizzle. It’s pizza so good, the Vegan Society has given its nod of approval.

“We know the value of good vegan pizza to our customers,” says Claire Hoyle, head of marketing at Goodfella’s. “Irish consumers are switching up their diets and including more meat substitutes in their meals, so we’re giving pizza fans more choice by adding the Meatless Mediterranean to our family of delicious vegan pizzas. The pea protein topping tastes so good, families won’t even realise it’s actually meat-free and still packs 13g of protein per serving.”

This latest creation joins the brand’s other vegan pizzas, including favourites like the Goodfella’s Vegan Stone Baked Falafel Pizza and the Goodfella’s Vegan Stone Baked Spicy Vegetable Salsa Pizza and is available now.

For further information and Goodfella’s full product list and details, visit

The Glas Irish Beef-Free Burger contains 17g of protein

Biting into satisfaction

Newly renamed Glas has just launched two new exciting products into its plant-based range including an Irish Beef-Free Burger with 17g of protein which is made without soya or gluten. Glas has also re-launched the long-awaited return of the plant-based sausage, which now has a new and improved recipe.

Glas has developed a new plant-based casing which means consumers now get the same bite as they would with a regular meat-based sausage, making the change up to meat free that much easier. Both products are stocked in top Irish retailers.

Wholesome and tasty

This year saw the launch of Thanks Plants in SuperValu stores, a new vegan ‘meatless meat’ company. Thanks Plants is a range of wholesome sausages in a variety of flavours including Apple & Sage, Sundried Tomato & Herb and The Frankfurter. Aisling Cullen, the creator of Thanks Plants, decided to bring these products to the market after making them at home and seeing there was a lack of whole food meat substitutes in supermarkets with ingredients that people understood.

“As a vegan, I could see the growth of meat free products over the years as people became more informed about the impact of their food choices,” says Cullen. “And although the variety of plant-based products was growing in supermarkets, I couldn’t find any that were as wholesome and tasty as the meat substitutes I made at home. I was delighted to get on SuperValu’s Food Academy which helped me launch my range and put it on the shelves.”

“Its early days but so far there has been great feedback from customers who love the products,” Cullen adds. “It isn’t ideal launching a company in the middle of the Covid pandemic, but the response so far has been very positive.”

Thanks Plants is currently stocked in SuperValu Lucan, Rathgar, Palmerstown, Knocklyon and Templeogue.

For more information, visit and Instagram:

Seize the day!

A new Irish start-up The Naked Collective has created an exciting range of beverages designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Ireland’s consumers

New Irish start-up The Naked Collective is an ambitious carbon neutral beverage company that loves creating healthy, functional natural drinks. Designed to meet the emerging needs of today’s consumers, the exciting new beverages are made solely from plants, vitamins and water.

You’re familiar with ‘super foods’: well, The Naked Collective has developed what it describes as a ‘SuperLiquid’, Made from 100% natural ingredients and its unique brewing process, The Naked Collective has created two brands, Mude and So.Beer. Simply bursting with vitamins and minerals, the beverages are all low sugar, low calorie, vegan friendly, isotonic and if that wasn’t enough, they are also clinically proven to improve immune health.

The Mude range consists of five functional drinks, specifically designed to help consumers take control of their day: Sleep, Chill, Play, Work and ImmunoBoost. All products are a naturally brewed seltzer with a unique function and flavour for different points throughout the day, whether that’s delivering a mid-morning kickstart or an ashwagandha-infused moment to help destress. These drinks are designed to support a positive and desired physical and mental change, within 5 – 20 minutes of consumption. They are all 100% natural with no artificial sweeteners, additives or preservatives. All packaging is highly recyclable which fits in with The Naked Collective’s commitment to the environment.

For further information, visit








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