Free-from foods set to enter mainstream market

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food and drink Wheat

Free-from food and drink products are expected to see rapid growth over the next few years, according to delegates at Food Manufacture's business leaders' round table debate last month.

The sector has proved far more resilient than the organic food sector, which was severely hit by the recession, according to delegates, and can no longer be considered "fringe​". However, some argued that further growth would be dependent on access to wider distribution channels.

"Free-from, which is quite a premium offering, is proving quite robust in the marketplace,"​ said Jeremy Woods, md of Stilleto Foods, which launched the free-from brand Mrs Crimbles.

Lise Madsen, md of Honeyrose Bakery said: "More and more consumers are buying free-from."​ American Muffin joint md Zoeb Bhujwalla added: "90% of our business is now free-from and we have grown dramatically on the free-from and gluten-free side."

But Pasta Reale's John Freestone urged caution: "When you are talking about free-from wheat or gluten, the segregation needs are such that they are a real disbenefit for a large organisation to be in that market. Until that is addressed, I feel the market has a hidden ceiling on its growth opportunity."

* Food Manufacture's sister web site is running an allergen-free foods conference on March 31 in London. For more details, click here.

* For more editorial coverage of the round table debate, which was chaired by Big Bear director Paul Wilkinson and brought together more than 20 chief executives and mds from UK food and drink manufacturers, click here.

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