Bread & baked goods, once fiercely avoided by those shunning gluten, is now a hero of the free-from category having made significant in-roads with retailers over the past year.

Sales of Genius, the biggest player in the market, are up 31.8% on volumes up 35.8% [IRI 52 w/e 20 July 2015] thanks to a raft of NPD and distribution gains.

“The category as a whole has made gains through penetration and frequency of purchase,” says David Shaw, Genius commercial director.

“Gluten free didn’t really touch the convenience element of the retailer space but over the last year-and-a-half we have seen major retailers give up space in convenience stores to accommodate the gluten-free category.”

The brand is hoping to push this further with more NPD, in the shape of pittas and pizza bases, which will hit shelves in the coming weeks as well as frozen products later in the year.

Udi’s has also benefited from distribution gains with a 300% increase of its bakery items over the past year. Now the brand is set to focus on in-store bakeries, which it says will be a key growth driver, with dedicated gluten-free in-store bakeries to be launched in collaboration with Asda. These will offer a combination of Udi’s and own-label products. The concept is currently being trialled in two stores. 

The potential of free from has not gone unnoticed by the more traditional bread brands. Allied Bakeries, which owns Kingsmill, is venturing into the market for the first time with its Burgen brand.

“Worth around £64.7m in total and in significant growth - 28% in the last year - this category represents a great opportunity for Allied Bakeries,” says Greg Bertolotti, Allied Bakeries category controller. “We are delighted to announce our entry into the ‘free from’ market with the launch of two new Burgen products, both of which are free from gluten, wheat and dairy, and will be merchandised in the ‘free from’ section in store.”

Burgen Soya & Linseed 500g and Burgen Sunflower & Chia Seed 500g contain no artificial preservatives and will carry the Coeliac UK’s ‘Crossed Grain’ symbol.

Newburn Bakehouse is also launching further NPD in this arena in the form of a Mini Wholegrain Wrap with Ancient Grains, which will be available at the end of September 2015.

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