The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at I am no longer updating the site, so there will be dead links. The static information provided by me is still sound.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or or or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Getting Into Supermarkets the Tough Part for Allergen-Free Foods

A perhaps not-so-surprising number of small firms making products that are free of allergens started when a family member needed the food for a loved one. Martin Hopkins was one, who started making peanut-free foods for his long-term girlfriend.

He had a vision, though, of marketing foods that were free of all 12 major allergens identified by the European Union.

His story is told in an article by Andrew Cave on the

He decided to make soups and cook-in sauces that were not only free of all nuts but also wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy products, sesame seeds, milk and fish, as well as free of more minor allergens such as celery and mustard seeds.

The first problem he encountered was finding a manufacturer with the dedicated facilities to be able to guarantee no contamination from any of these allergens.

After no luck with 13 different contracting companies, he set up his own factory near Buxton in the Peak District.

An even bigger challenge, however, was securing national distribution through one of Britain's big supermarkets.

"We were selling through wholefoods shops and delicatessens," says Hopkins, "but 70% of all Britain's food retailing goes through the major supermarkets.

To do that Hopkins had to study how supermarkets find new products.
"They buy new products only at certain times, when they have product reviews. We found out they were having one in our sector last summer so we approached them but we spent a lot of time trying to find out who was the buyer for our products, because they have hundreds.

"We eventually found the right person and undertook a trade show just so we could show our products to him. It was a big risk and it cost us a couple of thousand pounds but big chains are used to dealing with large companies.

"We had a very small budget but we had to try to make ourselves look as big as we could. The buyer came to the show and we showed him our products' benefits.

"From their point of view, we could offer efficiencies because they had a range of products that were free of particular allergens. We were able to offer something suitable for people with all the major food allergies.

"We were lucky in that the buyer turned out to have a minor nut allergy himself. He loves the product."

Luck like that is almost always preceded by hard work and research, though.

Britain's "free-from" market is predicted to double in the three years. Now is the time for you other potential entrepreneurs to get cracking.

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