Food glorious food
Gluten-free food has come a long way since the days when the only bread available came in a tin, with a taste and texture more akin to a rubber brick than to its gluten-containing counterpart.
As the leading force behind all things gluten-free, we have been working tirelessly to drive change and make improvements in gluten-free provision, but we still have a way to go. From our catering accreditation scheme to the Gluten-free Guarantee in supermarkets, and of course the internationally recognised Crossed Grain symbol, giving people with coeliac disease more choice and security in their food choices is at the heart of what we do.
Communicating with the food industry directly is key to getting our message across, so our latest Coeliac UK food industry professional networking event celebrates the huge steps taken so far, encouraging more food providers to offer gluten-free choice, and to sharing best practice in doing so.
We brought together representatives from manufacturing, food service, retail and catering to gain essential insight from their peers, and ultimately improve the gluten-free consumer experience.
With presentations from Marks & Spencer, Foods Standards Agency, Unilever, Mintel, Hard Rock Café, Nestlé and Pizza Express to name but a few, it’s no wonder that nearly 200 delegates from all over the UK and representing all food sectors attended the event.
What was so exciting was to see the rise and rise in the gluten-free market. In a presentation from Mintel, the market was identified as one of its top five growth areas – thanks to the fact that 22% of consumers bought or ate gluten-free products last year. And even better news in the eating out sector – Horizons, the market research experts in food service, reported that 50% of the leading brands now have a gluten-free option up from 36% last year.
The work of the Charity was acknowledged as one of the key factors in driving the change in provision. The work we have done to research safe gluten-free provision means we can confidently talk to the food sector about what works and as a result we are looked to as the experts in the area. As Nestle said during their presentation, having the Crossed Grain symbol on their gluten-free cereals builds trust – “it’s independent and credible.” And in presentations from caterers such as Hard Rock Café and Pizza Express the virtues of the Charity’s GF accreditation were extolled as good for business and good for the gluten-free consumer.
By the end of the day, there was a huge buzz from delegates, who left the event excited about the opportunities and educated about the procedures required to provide reliable gluten-free food. So far feedback indicates that delegates really appreciated the opportunity to hear from and network with colleagues across a range of industries. One delegate even said that it was one of the first conferences she had attended where she learned important information from every presentation. Most importantly, the consumer (our Members) was at the heart of the event, with all attendees striving to improve their gluten-free food offerings.
22 June 2016