Asda is ramping up its free-from offering with 78 new SKUs in the wake of a similar move by Sainsbury’s but it admits its rival is still ahead of the game when it comes to own-label presentation.

The 78 ambient own-label and branded SKUs roll out this week, taking Asda’s total free-from range to 208. The products are predominantly home-cooking focused and include Hale & Hearty gluten-free crumble mix (rsp: £2.76).

The retailer had expanded the range following consumer demand for more scratch-cooking items, said Helen Devine, Asda customer planner for free-from.

“Our existing range was too focused on cakes and biscuits. Allergy sufferers would prefer to do without snacks than do without the more substantial foods we are introducing in the new products.”

Sainsbury’s free-from range, which was expanded by 90 lines in March to a total of 229, offered an example of excellent shelf stand-out, she said. “Sainsbury’s has a good, strong range in terms of packaging we need to work on that.”

One area in which Asda would have an advantage over its rivals was price, she claimed.

“The higher price of free-from food is always a barrier because it requires more audits and checks during manufacturing, but as with all Asda products, we are getting prices down,” said Devine. “We want to contest Sainsbury’s claim to be the biggest free-from retailer.”

Tesco also boosted its offer in March, with a frozen savoury range under the Dietary Specials brand.

From June, Asda will roll out the wider choice of free-from food to more stores.

Read more
Cake maker tie-up shows Sainsbury’s Just Loves free-from (7 April 2010)
Tesco launches new frozen free-from range (16 March 2010)
Sainsbury’s sweetens up its NPD for summer (13 February 2010)