Introduced by the UK’s coeliac charity in 2014, the campaign asks supermarkets to commit to having a basket of eight core items of gluten-free staple food across all stores (see box-out below).
From this week, all 494 Morrisons stores across the UK will stock one of each of the eight items.
The retailer has become the second supermarket chain to sign up to the guarantee. Asda do so in September 2014, and Waitrose, Tesco and Marks & Spencer had made “significant progress” in meeting the guarantee, according to Coeliac UK.
Shopping is still a challenge
However, a recent survey on shopping habits of Coeliac UK members revealed that 74% said they have to visit more than one supermarket to complete their shopping.
“Things have improved beyond recognition in the last few years as the range of products now available in supermarkets continues to grow but many will be surprised that for most people with coeliac disease shopping for gluten-free items is still a real challenge,” said Coeliac UK chief executive Sarah Sleet.
She added that growing levels of coeliac diagnosis made it essential that supermarkets have sufficient stock across all their stores to meet increased demand and “mitigate the need for customers to trawl a number of stores to find staple items”.
Gluten-free Guarantee basket
The eight gluten-free products in the Guarantee are:
- white bread
- cereal bars
- one other bread (brown or seeded)
“For this reason we are very pleased to see one of the UK’s leading supermarkets commit to Coeliac UK’s Gluten-free Guarantee,” she said.
Free-from consumption to grow
Research published by Mintel last month found that 48% of consumers who eat or buy free-from food said they expect to eat more free-from food in the coming year. Over the six months to September 2015, a third of UK consumers bought or ate free-from food, with 22% buying or eating gluten-free products.
Market growth had been driven by shoppers widening the range of products they purchase, found Mintel, with the value of the free-from category predicted to rise to £673m ($975m) by 2020.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Left untreated it may lead to infertility, osteoporosis and small bowel cancer. One in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease, according to Coeliac UK.