Key to success in free-from is ensuring you can match the quality and flavour of gluten-containing products, says
Sam Benjamin from Too Good To Be Gluten Free
Going gluten-free doesn’t have to mean compromising on flavour, quality or taste – that’s the ethos free-from brand Too Good To Be Gluten Free applied to the development of its Pork Pie.
The determined approach paid off as the pie secured Free-From Bakery Product of the Year at the 2017 Baking Industry Awards. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it, believes Sam Benjamin, Too Good To Be Gluten Free brand and marketing manager at Addo Food Group.
“There was a good six-month process around trying to develop a gluten-free hot water pastry that ate as well as a standard pastry,” he explains. “It was a lot harder than we thought it would be, mainly because gluten-free flour has a much higher absorption rate of water. Then, when you add in xanthan gum as well, you need to add a lot more water to the mix to make it a pastry that’s suitable to run through a factory.”
Too Good To Be Gluten Free only uses naturally gluten-free flours, such as rye, maize and tapioca starch, alongside 100% British pork in its products.
The benchmark is the most important element in creating a top-notch product, Benjamin believes.
“Don’t benchmark against gluten-free products, benchmark against normal ones,” he says. “Be really honest with yourself. If you make a product and it’s rubbish when compared to a standard sausage roll or pork pie, just go ‘we made it, it’s rubbish, let’s make it better’… We made some terrible pork pies before we launched that one.”
Customers and retailers have proven to be equally impressed, with listings in more than 400 Sainsbury’s, 180 Waitrose and 150 Co-op stores.
“It’s our top seller so that’s the real proof for us,” Benjamin adds, “and now that’s backed up by an industry award – it’s a double whammy.”
Benjamin was quietly confident in Too Good’s chances of winning the Free-From award as he was proud of the product he’d helped to create, but acknowledges it is a tough and wide-reaching category with bread, sandwich thins, cakes and an array of other goods entered.
“Don’t enter the awards just because it’s worth entering… enter because you believe in your products,” he says.
Due to the overwhelming success Too Good has had with its snacking range, which includes the pork pie, mini scotch eggs and cocktail sausages, it is making this a core focus for the future.
“We’re introducing a new range of ready meals come January, but our focus will be on snacking and sharing; that’s a market where we can really capitalise as a gluten-free manufacturer,” says Benjamin.
“The Free-From award is particularly challenging, so it was great to see such a high number of excellent entries. The Addo Food Group stood out head and shoulders above the rest with its Too Good To Be Gluten Free Pork Pie, which tasted so good, you wouldn’t have known it was gluten-free.
“Addo showed incredible dedication to overcoming the technical difficulty of free-from baked goods. In a dedicated free-from facility, it was able to develop a gluten-free pastry that was best-in-class and delivered the texture and eating experience consumers have come to expect from gluten-containing counterparts.”
- Alan MacDougall, regional sales manager UK and Ireland, Ingredion EMEA