The Allergy & FreeFrom Show North, Liverpool, November 7-8


Cressida hard at work...

Read Michelle's blog about the Show...

This year's Allergy Show North was so popular that at midday on Saturday the hall had filled to capacity and the organisers had to shut the door and operate a one in, one out policy!

On Sunday, led by a tannoy announcement, we observed a minute’s silence to remember all those who have given their lives for peace and freedom, and to remember Armistice Day, when the guns fell silent. There was something quite magical about an utterly silent Allergy and FreeFrom Show…

But on either side of that minute's silence, we managed to meet some fantastic new companies and new products. A real eye opener on the continuing  innovation and development in freefrom food manufacture, not to mention increased variety and improved quality in the foods available to those with allergies, intolerances and on special diets. I haven't managed to cover ALL - there were FAR too many amazing things to do and see - you must come along next year - to either Glasgow, Berlin, London or Liverpool!

So, in no particular order, here is what we found:

Primrose’s Kitchen was sampling a range of gluten free, vegan muesli and granolas, and Big Oz were sampling their new luxury granolas in either red berries or tropical fruit flavours. Big Oz have also got a range of organic gluten free products such as buckwheat flakes, brown rice flakes, quinoa flakes and millet flakes that can be used like porridge oats.

Bute Island Foods new melting range in four tasty flavours is a great alternative to cheese – properly melting and really tasty, bringing Sunday night ‘cheese’ on toast back for all dairy allergics/intolerants!

Newburn Bakehouse were sampling their new 6 mini wholegrain wraps with ancient grains – perfect for kids’ lunch boxes but equally perfect for adults, and winner of the Consumer Survey of Product Innovation Product of the Year – the only freefrom product ever to have won the accolade! – as well as their White Sourdough Artisan Cob and their Classic White Artisan Loaf.

Genius Gluten Free were not sampling any of their new quiches or sausage rolls as that would have menat having an oven in a cardboard stand (not maybe the greatest idea!!) but they were giving out a very useful wallet-sized directory of all the Genius stockists. Among Genius’ other new products are pizza bases, pancakes and pitta breads – and just in case you hadn’t noticed they do make a puff pastry AND a shortcrust pastry – fab!

We stopped by the Just: Gluten Free Bakery to try their new brioche buns, a very nice version that look convincingly yellow (but contain no egg) and are soft and sweet like a brioche. Just bread is free of the 14 allergens which is a feat in itself but Ronnie was telling me that it’s not enough! By the end of Saturday around 40 people had asked him to remove the potato starch from their breads – so watch this space as Ronnie and the team redevelop the recipe!

Kirsty’s were showcasing their freefrom Kids’ Kitchen range of ready meals as well as their larger ready meals for adults – their dairy, wheat and gluten free lasagne won the Innovation Award at FreeFrom Food Awards 2015.

And winners of the Veggie Ready Meals category at the FreeFrom Food Awards 2015, Amy’s Kitchen, were sampling their Chinese Noodles and Veggies.

The White Rabbit Pizza Company sell ready-made gluten free pizzas – soon to be available nationwide. Venice Bakery were also serving up their gluten, dairy, wheat, egg free pizza bases with Free From Italy’s dairy & gluten free passata and pestos, and a new Vegusto dairy free melting cheese (which isn’t on the market yet).

Dolfin UK had bowls of their Simply 7 freefrom lentil and hummus crisps.

Angelic Gluten Free completely sold out of their new Christmas Pudding biscuits (gf, wf & df), and were also sampling their new tomato & Mediterranean herb crackers as well as their multiseed crackers.

Winner of the FAIR Trophy at the FreeFrom Food Awards 2015 are Voakes Free From were selling their gluten, dairy and wheat free pies much to the delight of many a freefrom pie enthusiast. So much so that they went home to bake MORE on the Saturday night! Voakes Free From have also developed a vegan pie range – gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free, and also sell a gluten free black pudding – though it does contain soya and sulphites. Voakes are working to create pies with none of the 14 allergens......

Bakels haven’t been going very long but their mixes are free of the 14 allergens and include artisan mixes for the oven as well as standard mixes for bread machines.

Innovative Solutions (Pure Gluten Free) create freefrom blends on such a large scale that they are able to offer their mixes to the retail customer at low prices. This small family run business blends and packs specialist flours to guarantee successful freefrom baking!

Bfree new stone baked pittas were a highlight alongside their gluten, wheat, dairy, soya and nut free range, which is now ALSO egg-free and includes bagels, wraps and fajita kits.

We met a new chocolatier, Mr Popple, and his range of raw chocolate in tasty flavours – euphoric orange, cherry aid, super fruit, uplifting mint and lime and two plain bars in either 69% or 88% cacao.

The lovely Ann and Neil at Perk!er have developed some beautiful quinoa-based bars – cane sugar-free, palm oil free, vegan, gluten and dairy free, in three different flavours. The popped quinoa brings a marvellous, crunchy texture to the bars.

Winners of the Tea Time! Category at the FFFA15 with their amazing donuts were Feel Free Foods who brought along a donut machine capable of producing 400 an hour – I don’t think it got any rest over the weekend!

Wow Cake Company make carrot cake, chocolate brownie and sponge cake mixes – just add butter and egg or suitable substitutes,and Delicious Alchemy were showcasing their mixes with some incredible looking Victoria Sponges, and their new dairy & gluten free Christmas fruit cake mix!

Burley Fudge is a purveyor of dairy free fudge and a coconut ice, and next-door were Jim-Jams with their no added sugar and gluten free jams and spreads. Eat Allergy Safe is a new company making allergen-free confectionery, snack bars and baking mixes.

Eskal had many of their numerous products on view, and Doves Farm had the most marvellously calm-coloured stand opposite ours where their chefs held cookery seminars throughout the weekend. Also opposite us (we were on a corner) was GranoVita who sell own-band (and others) organic, vegetarian and freefrom foods.

St Helen’s Farm were handing out their goat’s milk ice cream getting the message across that goat’s milk tastes just like - well... milk – and with great success! And there were rumours on Saturday afternoon that Dream was about to start sampling their ‘salted caramel’ dairy, lactose, gluten and soya free ice cream. Sadly, it was ALL GONE by the time I arrived…

Pudology were sampling and selling their new Simply Sumptuous Millionaire’s puds, and their new coconut yoghurts in Mango and Passionfruit flavour. And whilst we’re on puddings, Tesco were handing out samples of their gluten free profiteroles – I heard tell they were FAB!

CELIA were sampling their new Dark which was going down a treat, and Daura Damm were also sampling their new double malted Daura Marzen – they’d run out of stock by early Sunday afternoon (no surprise!) – luckily we were situated right behind Fentiman’s and so got to sample some of their gluten free non-alcoholic refreshers such as an exquisite rose lemonade with Bulgarian rose oil.

New to the show and also entering the FreeFrom Food Awards for the first time are Naturelly who make ‘jelly juice’ – exactly as you’d imagine: it is slightly runny jelly!  Better Little Treats were handing out real fruit juice lollipops in proper-tasting flavours such as apple, pomegranate and mango.

Some fantastic one-stop shop companies were present in force: Goodness Direct who stock freefrom, healthy and organic products; to Glebe Farm Foods who supply from breakfast to beer o’clock and all in between to trade and retail.
Newcomers Free From Market, who launched in July, are stocking masses of freefrom products including artisan goods, staples, and a Christmas range.

Non-food highlights :

Some of the new things we found that we LOVE but that are not edible: Miss Nella’s non-toxic, peel off nail varnish, rendering the need for nasty toxic nail varnish removers redundant.
Gift Wellness’s allergen-free sanitary towels with a hormone-balancing tourmaline infused strip, and proceeds go towards Shelter’s winter flat-pack homes for refugees as well as the Halimah Trust.
Simply washing powder – into the drawer, fragrance free washing powder…

And Allergy Adventures was there, engaging children with their fact-finding treasure hunt and a chance to win some allergy-friendly crayons, pencils and paints. Allergy Buddies showcased their range of allergy alert products...

So - next year you have to come along and experience all this for yourself, ok? Next year there will be 4 Allergy & FreeFrom Shows:
Glasgow - 19-20 March, SECC
Berlin - 15-17 April, Station
London - 8-10 July, Olympia
Liverpool - 5-6 November, Exhibition Centre