You may remember I was invited to help judge the Free From Foods Awards again this year…The winners were announced at the awards ceremony last week, and I went down to London for the evening.

Entries were up by 40% since last year, and it’s not surprising.

Apparently there is a 15% growth year on year of the free from market, and it is expected to be worth 6bn dollars by 2017. That’s a lot of us eating—and drinking—gluten free…

gluten-free-beer

The two key points I took away from the evening this year were:

  1. The array of free from beers that are now available

    I’m not a big beer drinker, but I was surprised by the range now available. If you’re interested in gluten free beer, then you should definitely check out the beers people were enjoying on the night:

  2. The number of new entrants to the market

    There are always newcomers to the free from market, particularly in the cakes/biscuits area, but it is sometimes difficult for such companies to find their place, and grow from supplying farmers’ markets locally to supplying nationally.

    However, this year, almost every manufacturer I spoke to during the evening had been in business for a very short time. Months only, in some cases. And the very fact that they were there meant that we’d shortlisted them – and some of them were winners in their categories. An astonishing success in these early days.

    Congratulations to everyone shortlisted, big or small company, winners or not—and lots of luck to the newcomers in those first crucial years of business. It isn’t easy…

  3. gluten-free-winners

     

    Free From Pick

    Here’s my pick from this year’s event: either products I taste-tested and particularly enjoyed, or ones that sound really interesting. Sadly, I didn’t get to taste very much on the evening of the awards—I had to leave to catch the last train north.

    Obviously it’s an entirely subjective list!

    • Dell’Ugo Chickpea Fusilli. I’ll also be trying the Cornito Sea Waves pasta (and the Rizopia Fantasia sounds like fun for children)
    • Bessant & Drury Dairy Free Frozen Dessert. The lemon flavour was the overall winner, so that’s got to be worth a try.
    • The Indian Coeliac Paratha. I really liked this when we tried it on the judging day.
    • Hotch Potch Eggs Savoury Scotch Eggs We used to be able to get gluten free scotch eggs at our local farmers’ market… but not any more. These sound like a great replacement
    • Glamourpuds Hot Chocolate Fudge Pudding Pot and Christine’s Puddings Frangipane Tart. I know several people in my house who’d enjoy these!
    • Freedom Deli Panini. I tried the tuna melt panini at the awards evening (the only thing I did have time to try!) and thought it worked really well.
    • Afia’s Spicy Beef Samosa. This sounds interesting. Son recently made samosas at school, but obviously not gluten-free versions, so it would be nice for coeliac daughter to be able to try a samosa.
    • Dee’s Quinoa Pots with Thai Spiced Vegetables and little lentils. Again, we haven’t tried this, but it sounds good.
    • Tesco Free From Three Cheese Pasta Bake. I know my coeliac enjoys this one, though sadly our local Tesco has stopped stocking all their gluten free chilled readymeals.
    • Pig & Co Lucanian Roman Sausage. I don’t do meat myself, but everyone else in my house does, so I’m sure these would go down a treat.
    • Conscious Foods Finger Millet Dippers and The FreeFrom Bakehouse Jalapeño Pepper & Sweetcorn Muffins. These just sound intriguing!
    • Waitrose LOVE Life GF Millionaire Blondies. I was on the cake panel, and enjoyed these enough to have seconds. When you’ve eaten way too many cakes in an afternoon, something has to be good to merit a second go! I also liked: Cakes Divine Carrot Cupcakes (I love a carrot cake)

    More details of the shortlist and winners are available on the awards website. I hope you find something that you really enjoy from these lists!