Calling all manufacturers or suppliers of food or drink that is ‘freefrom’ – the 2017 FreeFrom Food Awards are open for entry.The FreeFrom Food Awards took place in Ireland in 2016 for the first time. With over 91 brands and more than 390 entries into the 40 category event, the inaugural Awards were hugely successful, with many brands benefiting from the opportunity to herald their products as award winning. Having originated in the UK, the Irish awards were founded by coeliac businessman, John Burke. The process from call to entry, to judging, to the official awards ceremony in May, is in full swing with over 40 brands already signed up.
Gold, Silver and Bronze are granted, along with a Merit badge for products still considered high quality by the judges. Winners may display the relevant badge on their packaging, which helps consumers wading through the extensive freefrom sections of their stores to discern which products are best.
Categories are diverse from pasta to ready meals, cakes to crisps and bread products to breakfast cereals. The range of freefrom foods has grown exceptionally as more people are either diagnosed with coeliac disease, gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance or allergies to one of the 14 allergens recognised by EU law. Also helping to increase the market is the emergence of lifestyle freefromers – people who shop in the freefrom section because of the perceived health benefit from consuming these products. The gluten-free category alone is valued at €29 million, with sales of €40 million projected by 2020, according to Bord Bia. Manufacturers and retailers are keenly aware of such projections with new product offerings often developed with freefrom-ness in mind.
‘It was a great boost that our gluten-free profiteroles won the product of the year award in 2016. Since winning the awards we have received great interest from consumers and buyers. The profiteroles launched in 450 Sainsbury’s in January and will launch in 150 SuperValu stores in March. Having a winning product really helps to break into these areas,” says Colum McLornan, Director, Rule of Crumb.
“I love the FreeFrom arena as a coeliac of over 40 years,” says FreeFrom Food Awards Ireland Founder, John Burke. “I am passionate and excited to see new and familiar brands constantly innovating where previously there weren’t alternatives for someone like me. It can be an emotional milestone to try a food you’ve never had, that others take for granted. The importance of the Awards is that we embrace and encourage food producers for continuing to develop everyday foods that by their nature, just shouldn’t be FreeFrom, yet are not only suitable dietary substitutes, but taste excellent!”
The FreeFrom Food Awards is delighted to have many stalwart freefrom brands involved in the awards, with long-term producer, Juvela sponsoring our Special Services to the Industry Award.
The FreeFrom Food sector represents one of the fastest growing in niche foods (Bord Bia industry research, 2011) and with an increasing number of consumers choosing foods that are free from allergens, the range of foods has grown significantly and the FreeFrom Food Awards strives to recognise the efforts made by artisans, manufacturers and retailers to meet this growing need in Ireland.
Freefrom Food Awards Ireland has been established independently by John Burke, founder of GFLife. The FreeFrom Food Awards, were started in the UK in 2007, being the only industry awards for FreeFrom foods, by FoodsMatter and FreeFrom Foods Matter. Having been a judge at the UK FreeFrom Awards for over 6 years, John has adapted the awards format for an Irish setting.
Manufacturers of FreeFrom Foods are invited to enter online at www.fffa.ie or email email@example.com. The entry process is simple and there are over 40 categories, in which products can be entered. The large number of categories ensures that the diversity of foods are judged aptly.
The Freefrom Food Awards also works to counter preconceptions of FreeFrom food being unpalatable. With such innovation and excellence as has developed over recent years, the Awards recognises the distance the market has come since gluten-free bread came in tins.
To find out more about the FreeFrom Food Awards, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or John Burke, FreeFrom Food Awards, email@example.com.