The winners of this year’s FreeFrom Food Awards 2013 have been announced at a ceremony in London. The winner of the FAIR Trophy for the best freefrom food was a lemon, dairy-free coconut frozen dessert from Bessant & Drury, whose coconut chocolate frozen dessert was also a winner in the new Children’s Food category.
The first ever fresh chickpea pasta, from Dell’Ugo, won the Innovation Award; a winner in the Food Service category was an egg-free savoury Scotch egg from Hotch Potch Eggs, while a new gluten-free Czech lager, Celia, was a joint winner in the gluten-free beer category.
“Since we launched the FreeFrom Food Awards six years ago, we have seen the number of freefrom products grow extensively,” said Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, director of the awards. “For these awards there was a record 37% increase in the number of entries. However, it was the improvements in terms of flavour and appearance that impressed the judges most. Many of the dishes were free from more than one allergen, yet tasted and looked as good as any conventional product. It takes significant skill and investment by the food industry, so congratulations to the winners and to all of those whose products were commended. This year set a new ‘high’ in terms of quality.”
A team of 50 expert judges tasted and tested nearly 350 freefrom products across 15 categories. These included plant-based products, breakfast cereals; ready meals, nut-free products, freefrom foods for children, and the ever popular freefrom cakes and gluten-free beer categories.
To be eligible to enter the awards the products must be free from one or more of the foods (wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, nuts, soya etc.) that trouble the 45% of the population that Allergy UK believe will suffer from a food sensitivity at some point in their life, as well as the one in a hundred of the population now thought to be coeliac.
The range, quality and innovation of the winning and commended products is further evidence of the growth of the freefrom sector in the UK, said the organisers, currently valued at £240 million and expected to grow to £519 million by 2016 – a year-on-year growth of 15.5 %.(Kantar World Panel).