Making the most of the free-from movement

Free-from food sales have surged in recent years and this growth shows no signs of stopping. Research from The Grocer last year showed that the number of Brits who claim to regularly shop in the free-from aisle has more than doubled in the past few years, from 19% to 43%.  This popularity is a strong trend that the out of home market and the hospitality sector cannot afford to ignore. To help you navigate the growing free-from market, we caught up with some of The Restaurant Show’s exhibitors in this sector to get some insights.

Free-from drinking

Firstly, it’s important to note that free-from doesn’t just apply to food, drinks are of course affected too, we asked Danielle Bekker of Good Living Brew Co. (Stand: UP68) to tell us more:

“One of the most notable free-from movements is veganism and this greatly affects the alcoholic beverage market as for various reasons, many are not vegan. In an ideal world, there would be a product that could meet multiple free-from needs and this is where binary botanical ale comes in. binary is not only certified vegan by the Vegan Society, it is also sugar free and low in gluten.”

Bekker also spoke about the issue of sacrificing taste when it comes to free-from foods:

“Many people feel when it comes to free-from products, you have to sacrifice taste but here at binary, that was not an option. This search led us to discovering our organic hop leaf botanical that gives binary a prosecco like tangy flavour with a beer light refreshment. This makes it the perfect choice for not only consumers but bars and restaurants too.”

Taste sensations

One of the exciting things about The Restaurant Show this year is the innovation on offer and available to taste when it comes to the free-from sector. Not to be missed is Drunken Dairy Limited (Stand: UY51) who make booze-infused dairy and free-from ice creams and vegan sorbets. They call it an ‘an ice cream adventure for grown-ups!’. They’ll be showing you how free-from is anything but boring. Take for example their ‘Caribbean Queen’ product, a boozy vegan 'ice cream', described as a smooth and creamy vegan ice cream, made from soya and coconut milks, with banana and white rum. Angela Wilkins of Drunken Dairy told us: “Creating exciting new ice creams and sorbets is what we are all about. Our Caribbean Queen, the first-ever boozy vegan ‘ice cream’ was a tricky one – but we did it!”

You can also tap into the growing vegan market by visiting The Handmade Cake Company on stand UW70, where you’ll find a newly launched vegan Belgian Chocolate Cake, specially designed to be 100% vegan but tasty enough to appeal to all.

Also offering up a free-from taste sensation is Mr Todiwala’s on stand US65, the home of new hot and spicy pickles, chutneys, sauces, snacks and masalas, created by one of Britain's best loved Indian Chefs, Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL. All of the chutneys and pickles on the stand will be gluten free and each product is in Café Spice Namasté; one of London’s most established Indian and Pan-Asian restaurants.

Enhance your skills

For operators seriously considering upping their free-from game, The Vegetarian Society Cookery School on Stand: UY47 is well worth a visit. The school has refreshed its Professional Chefs’ Diploma course to include a full day on vegan patisserie. Sam Platt, Cookery School Manager, said: “The vegan patisserie day will include plated desserts, afternoon tea and buffets, to really tempt in those vegan and veggie customers. Learn skills to give you a unique selling point and get ahead of your competitors with amazing free-from desserts.”

There is a wide range of free-from suppliers to see at The Restaurant Show, other stands to look out for include NCCO International Ltd (Stand: UF49), Northern Bloc (Stand: UL50), Home Chocolate Factory Ltd (Stand: GC51) and Knorr. Whether you’re looking to learn more about the market, expand your menu or just sample the latest free-from food innovations, you’ll find it all under one roof at The Restaurant Show.