A leading gluten-free bakery supplier has warned that the category could become commoditised if supermarkets continue to push their own-label products.
Nutrition Point which owns DS (dietary specials) bread and Trufree snacks and biscuits believes gluten-free faces a similar predicament to mainstream bread 10 years ago, before value and more diverse brands returned to the category. MD Chris Hook said there was already a nearly 70:30 split between own-label and brands, which was set to increase. Hook has refused to supply own-label products, while a few of the firm’s own products have even been delisted.
"I’m beginning to feel a little bit vulnerable and am increasingly being expected to justify our existence," he said. "We’re doing a lot of innovation, but the retailers say they want these products under own label why would I hand over the recipe and intellectual property rights?"
Paddy Cronin, commercial director of United Central Bakeries, which produces both own-label and branded gluten-free bakery products, including the Genius range, said there was a place for both, as long as brands offered a point of difference. But he added that a degree of commoditisation could bring prices down. "Part of the problem is that production is in batch quantities, so you cannot get the same efficiencies as standard products."
Jeremy Woods, MD of Mrs Crimbles, had no plans to supply own-label. He said: "My job is to promote my brand and product range any category needs strong brands, as consumers want choice, and there’s still a role for them if you have good products."