Co-op wins ‘free from’ convenience retailer of the year

Co-op has been named the Free From Food Awards’ first ever ‘Convenience Retailer of the Year’ winner for its commitment to offer everyday staples across all its 2,600 stores for the millions who follow a free from diet.

Now in the 15th year, the Free From Food Awards are the UK’s only awards dedicated to celebrating excellence and innovation in the free from food and drink industry. Co-op picked up the new award for its continued efforts to ensure shoppers can easily access everyday free from products such as bread, pasta and cereals locally, with the retailer offering a range across all its stores.

First launched in 2011, Co-op’s Free From branded own-label range now boasts 30 lines across chilled, frozen and ambient, spanning from core essentials to occasional treats, which are free from gluten, milk, egg and nuts. The retailer also has hundreds of products across its own-brand ranges are suitable for free from shoppers. Available across its stores and online, the offering is designed for people following a free from diet including the millions living with food allergies.

Co-op picked up multiple awards for Free From products, including five silver and three bronze gongs. Amongst the winning products, Co-op’s Free From Strawberry and Vanilla Cones, Free From Spaghetti and Irresistible Hand Cooked Sea Salt & Chardonnay Wine Vinegar Crisps all picked up silver.

Judges from the Free From Food Awards, said: “Changing consumer shopping habits, such as the growing popularity of top-up shops, have been key to the growth of the convenience retailers. Until relatively recently though the free from and allergic consumer has really struggled to find core staple items in smaller convenience stores. The Co-op not only recognised and understood this, they swiftly set a vision to become the nation’s trusted & preferred convenience retailer for great quality Free From foods. They now offer a range of delicious products across key categories that free from and allergic consumers, on convenience missions, can trust to meet their needs. (such as their Free From Spaghetti and Free From Yorkshire Puddings).

“And they haven’t stopped here; to broaden choice further they are also removing allergens from their standard ranges around the store – from their Silver winning King Prawns in a delightful Coconut & Chilli Crumb, their Irresistible Aromatic & Creamy Chicken Tikka and their now infamous seasonal party food offer. They impressed judges this year, in multiple categories and are worthy winners of ‘Free From Convenience Retailer of the Year’ and with consumers talking unprompted about great quality and ethical trading, they have a great platform for future development.”

Jayne Brown, Co-op’s assistant own brand strategy manager for free from, said: “We’re passionate that our customers, colleagues and communities have access to safe products – no matter their circumstance. That’s why we have a variety of great tasting products and clear allergy labelling, which we know is so vital to so many people.”

For more information about Co-op’s free from range, customers and members can visit here. Until the 3 May, Co-op is supporting the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation by donating 10% of all sales of its free from range to help fund the charity’s vital research into food allergies..