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Michelle Berriedale-Johnson on how “free from” started in the UK!

FreeFrom Foods matter – how “free from” started in the UK!

Would you expect the same development in Germany?

I do not see any reason why the development should not go into the same direction in Germany as in the UK and the US. Of course things will be slightly different because your taste is different from ours in terms of products.

America is obsessed by gluten free but there is not as much interest in other issues such as food allergies or intolerances, but it is increasing. For example, nut milks have become very big in the US, also as part of a reaction against the dairy industry. A lot of the free from trend has to do with reactions against something, like over intensive farming, monocultures, fructose, sugar etc.. 

Which role did the health food stores play for the development of the “free from” food market?

In the UK, the health food stores did not really play nearly as big a role as they should have done. When the trend started with all those small businesses, the health food stored did get kind of left behind. It was not until in the last two years, that Holland & Barrett, the big UK health food chain, has finally gotten on board.

Did the UK-health system have an impact on the “free from” food scene?

I think the regulatory authorities in Bruxelles and in the UK had a more important influence. The regulations were important because they put a structure in place that any manufacturer producing “free from” food has to abide to. I do not think that any of the government initiatives have really focused on “free from” food.  

It’s different with the Food Information Regulation for unpackaged food - about 70 % of the UK food services businesses are not compliant. At the same time, other food services realized that there is a market out there and they see “free from” as a marketing tool, just as the big manufacturers did.  

Michelle, thank you so much für this Interview!

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