Free-From Suppliers Look To Vertical Integration

In June, Genius Foods was forced to recall 24 products labelled as ‘gluten-free’ because of fears they did in fact contain it. A similar recall took place in December after chilli bean pies containing gluten were mislabelled as gluten-free steak pies.

As the popularity of free-from food grows and the number of people diagnosed with allergies increases, the issue of contamination will be high on the agenda within this sector. So what lessons might there be from this latest recall?

“The future lies with the guys who own the raw materials and process it themselves,” says Hamish Renton, MD of consultancy HRA. “These incidents tend to happen to companies that don’t own the raw materials or factories. If you outsource parts of your production process, then there’s a risk that the other party make not take these issues as seriously.”

There’s no suggestion such matters aren’t at the top of the agenda for Genuis. In fact, the company has been widely praised for the manner with which it dealt with the problem. “Genius takes issues of this nature very seriously.” says a spokesman. “We’re working with our internal teams and retail partners to prevent any risk to our customers and to prevent reoccourrence.”

Meanwhile, Warburtons and Udi’s have invested £5m in a dedicated gluten and wheat-free bakery for its Newburn Bakehouse range.

European Oat company Raisio Group controls the seeds, planting, harvesting and packing of its oats all under one roof. There is also a 10km exclusion zone around the crops where there are no wheat-containing plants grown.

“As we have the total chain of production in our own hands, from farm to consumers, we can be sure of the pureness and quality of the products,” says Export Manager, Kati Mansikkaviita.

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