Warburtons is venturing into the burgeoning free-from market with a new range of gluten-free baked goods.

Britain’s biggest bakery confirmed this week that it would introduce its first ever free-from bread products to retailers later this year or early next year, making it the first major bread brand to have a ­free-from offering.

The total free-from bakery market is expected to be worth £20m by the end of 2010, according to Nielsen, and Warburtons which chalked up £728m sales over the past year will overwhelmingly be the ­biggest brand.

Finsbury Food’s Genius business is currently the top brand in free-from bakery and announced a new marketing campaign this week (see p25).

Warburtons refused to provide any further details but said it wanted to “bring higher quality products to a fast-growing food sector.”

“By providing enhanced choice for people living with gluten intolerance and food allergies, we aim to grow the free-from sector and generate incremental ­business opportunities,” said a spokesman.

Warburtons’ rival Hovis said it was “good to see brands branching out” but announced it did not have plans to launch a gluten-free range at the moment.

Meanwhile, Claire Nuttall, insight and innovation director at brand agency 1hq, highlighted the importance of keeping the prices of the new products accessible.

“Many alternative bread offers drive prices high due to the limited choices on offer and the additional value they bring, much to the peril of consumers,” said Nuttall.

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