Research & Innovation

Irish BFree Foods Market Leaders in Gluten-Free Food Innovations

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Irish BFree Foods Market Leaders in Gluten-Free Food Innovations

Irish BFree Foods Market Leaders in Gluten-Free Food Innovations
March 11
08:58 2014

Gluten-free foods have suffered from a bad press over the years. It has been seen as low quality, with poor taste and mouthfeel, and was regarded as being of low nutritional value.

They were seen as poor substitutes for “real” bread. Not great recommendations for foods which many people depend on for healthy diets.

Irish company BFree recognised this shortcoming and saw a market opportunity to create a range of breads that would address these issues and change perceptions among consumers. The company worked with a research team in University College Cork which specialises in gluten-free bakery and developed a bread range which it launched in 2011.

Within six months the range had become the market leader in the “free-from” bakery category and this spurred the company on to add new products to the range.

The latest of these is a gluten-free multigrain wrap which addresses problems with previous products which were not very foldable, tended to crack, and didn’t taste very good in many cases.

The idea for the product arose from talking to potential customers. “We attended the AGM of Coeliac UK and were doing some product sampling,” says BFree marketing executive Freya Ivory.

“We did a survey of the people there asking them what bread products they missed most and the wrap came out on top by far. There was no free-from wrap out there that would fold and bend like a standard bread.”

Following several months development work the product was launched in 2013 and was almost instantly successful.

Among its more notable achievements were securing listings with almost 400 Asda stores in the UK; being launched in Dunnes Stores in April 2013 and immediately becoming a best seller in the gluten-free category and then launching in Tesco and Musgraves nationwide; and O’Briens Sandwich bars has extended its gluten-free offering with the wraps.

The wrap is also now listed as a “Healthy Extra B” by UK magazine Slimming World where many other wrap brands fail to meet their nutritional requirements.

“Our customers are telling us that they are using it for other options as well like pizza bases and lasagne layers,” says Ivory. “Also, Tesco are now stocking it with mainstream breads it has become so popular.”

The future will see BFree continuing to innovate new products but the market for the new wrap is vast.

“The multigrain wrap innovation is now the fastest selling free-from product in the majority of retailers, with volume sales increasing steadily week-on-week. The product has opened the doors of many retailers in Ireland and abroad to us as it is a unique product that cannot and has not been replicated,” says Ivory.

“We have just started to export to the US and we are looking at other export markets as well.”

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