Opinion: Empty Shelves
It’s been a week since the fabulous FreeFrom Food Awards and the amazing gala night at the Mansion House with some fantastic winners who are championing some seriously tasty foods for those with food allergies.
Now we need some action! This week, new research from UK online store Honest Eats suggests that the food industry has yet to catch up with consumer demand when it comes to taste, availability and the motivations behind free-from diets.
An incredible 91% of shoppers surveyed said that they have struggled to find free-from alternatives, with more than a third going so far as to say that they often struggle to get free-from food.
I would say the figures are mirrored in Ireland. As a coeliac, it’s still incredibly common to go to a shop, cafe or restaurant and face severe food choices on the menu. And it can often mean a trip to three to four different shops to source your favourite foods on a regular basis.
We now have a roll call of amazing free-from foods, judged worthy winners by teams of judges over a busy month back in April, but it’s still far too difficult to find these super cool food producers without some serious detective work.
There are over 40,000 coeliacs in Ireland, never mind the numbers who are wheat and gluten-intolerant. When you add in those who are dairy-free, egg-allergic and the large number who struggle with some of the 14 food ingredients that must be declared as allergens on food packaging, it’s a large and growing bunch of consumers with cash to splash, so we need to be able to get these products freely on our supermarket shelves.
I have to give a shout out to the folk at Supervalu, Aldi and Lidl, who have greatly helped coeliacs by delivering good-value, tasty products to the market. But it’s the little guys who need our help!
I’m not expecting miracles, but it would be great if Irish supermarkets could give a chance to some of these amazing winners – tried and tested and judged worthy of awards by a host of pernickety judges.
We have a job to do ourselves too. Go in an ask for these products, request them in your local supermarket or shop – the more demand there is, the more we will get things moving.
The full list of winners are here: 2016 FreeFrom Award Winners.
As a coeliac, I’ve tried many different foods, and as a judge I got to try many more fabulous new food products. But I cannot get a lot of them on my doorstep, yet…
These small producers are putting in blood, sweat and tears to bring these great products to us and deserve some serious support. It will help them and all of us to get even better quality choices in the future.
Huge congratulations to all the winners, big and small. Here are some of my favourites: