Special edition: 'The rise of free from'

Gluten free offers foil to UK’s high consumption of wheat-based mainstream bread, says founder of Genius Gluten Free

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gluten-free baked goods, Genius Gluten Free, Uk, Bread

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne of Genius Gluten Free believes that – overall – UK consumers eat too much bread, which opens opportunities for nutritious non-wheat alternatives.

The founder of the UK’s leading gluten-free bakery brand says there are many interesting ingredients hitting the market, which is allowing the gluten-free sector to improve their recipes.

“The new ingredients are really helpful as they allow you to strip out some ingredients that a bakery producer was relying on,”​ said Bruce Gardyne, adding she has noticed gluten free ingredients lists getting shorter.

“I hope that gluten-free products will become as nutritious, or even more so, than the wheat-based mainstream alternatives.”

Still a budding category

According to Bruce-Gardyne, the “astronomical”​ rise of free from has flattened out slightly as more companies have entered the sector, but it is still a nascent category with many opportunities both in the UK and around the world.

“Our core audience are people who have to avoid gluten, but obviously we have other groups of consumers such as people who dip in and out of gluten free because they’re training for a marathon or they just feel better for avoiding wheat.

“We also target people who are just considering moving into the gluten-free space to give themselves more variety in their diet,”​ she said, noting that, as a nation, the UK eats far too much bread and “to dilute that with foods made with other grains is a good thing.”

Bruce-Gardyne developed the Genius brand to answer the dietary needs of her son who was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant when he was three.

“I couldn’t find gluten-free bread anywhere that even touched on what bread should be like, so I spent three years developing one: first in my kitchen at home and then with a local gluten-free bakery.”

Today, the company boasts a 20-strong product portfolio containing breads, rolls, cupcakes, pancakes, muffins and biscuits.

The gluten-free producer – which is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland – has also recently launched a gluten-free baguette in the UK (in Asda) and in France.

“We’ve got huge endorsement from the French market, which is very exciting,”​ said Bruce-Gardyne.

The reason for our success

She attributes the success of Genius Gluten Free on the fact that it concentrates entirely on gluten-free products.

“Our hearts and minds are fully focussed on creating great quality, normal mainstream-style gluten-free products to give people convenience, and also to give them the feeling that life is back to normal. We spend a lot of time developing our products – some can take two to three years to get right.”

Today, the Genius brand can be found on supermarket shelves across the globe, including the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and the UAE.

The purchase of two United Central Bakeries – in Bathgate and Hull – in 2013; the establishment of a third manufacturing site in the Scunthorpe, UK; and the acquisition of Chapel Foods in 2015 has reinforced Genius’ position as a market leader in the fast growing gluten-free food sector.

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