Lets Talk About 'Free-From'
When you hear the words ‘free-from’, what do you think of? As a ‘free-from’ company ourselves, we’d love to associate it with innovation, bettering people’s diets and delicious food. Yet our brains instantly go to the free-from aisle of the major supermarkets - packed with products from huge corporate brands which are simply a replica of their gluten sibling. Quite a sad association by all means.
Equally, we know many people instantly categorise it as ‘not tasty’ or a lesser product than what it’s trying to replicate. A stigma that seems to have stuck - we’ve had family members proclaim the likes of “I’m not eating that garbage” when handed one of our sweet treats, instead opting for a slice of toasted white bread with margarine (the irony of which still baffles us).
But we get it, sort of. If you’re not yet attuned with the world of ‘free-from’ then it may seem like a weird one. For so long, these mass-produced, factory made products have been served without question, and now suddenly we’re here with our weird gloopy chia pudding, and gluten-free grains, to tell you that all of what you thought about food previously is wrong.
Yet if you try the majority of these ‘free-from’ products on the supermarket shelves, you can’t help but think that being wrong is better than eating something twice the price, with half the taste, right? Even with food intolerances, we've struggled to get excited about the majority of things on those shelves.
So what do we propose - where are we heading with this? Well there's two tangents to this:
1. Is 'free-from' really the correct phrase anymore? We pride ourselves on making products that are way more than just ‘free-from’ - they are natural, they’re designed to benefit your health and wellbeing and most importantly, they’re designed to taste amazing - regardless of whether there's gluten + dairy present or not. To us, free-from makes us think of chalky digestives and dry bread - not this new market of smaller brands who are killing it on the product front, and are finally breaking into the major stores and supermarkets. Can we maybe just start a new aisle called 'really awesome products that certainly aren't free-from flavour'?
2. But then the main question - how do we educate the mass market on all of this? Being on the shelves is the first step, but educating is the most important. How do you say 'we're not just another gluten-free brand trying to make money off a growing market' or 'we actually taste really good - we're different we promise!' or even 'Ah, but we're so much more than just free-from you see?'. They don't exactly roll off the tongue, and trying to explain that in one line on an advertisement is pretty hard.
But (always a but) we have a good feeling about 2018 - pretty much every food trend comment from Mintel to Jamie Oliver has said natural ingredients, veganism and so forth are on the rise. There's an army of small brands taking the food market by storm, eating habits are changing for the better and it feels like change is really happening right now.
So to celebrate the good guys, the tasty guys and our fellow 'certainly aren't free-from flavour' aisle members, we've put together a list of our favourite brands disrupting the supermarket shelves right now.
- Pollen + Grace (no shame self-plug) - now available on Ocado
- GATO - 100% natural dessert jars, available in Sainsbury’s
- Miiro - delicious magnum-style dairy-free ice creams, available on Ocado
- Livia’s kitchen - natural snacks that don’t fit into the ‘date bar’ category, available at Sainsbury’s
- Rude Health - the tastiest nut milks with no unnecessary ingredients, available at Sainsbury’s
- Emily Crisps - crunchy veg + fruit crisps which actually taste great, available on Ocado
- Booja Booja - the best dairy-free truffles on the market (ever), available at Waitrose
- Freaks of Nature - dessert to die for, without any of the processed stuff, available at Tesco