(L-R) Brooke, Madison, and Kendall, Bürgen’s Gluten and Dairy Free Bread Ambassadors.

Charlotte Stockwell discovered a wide variety of exciting new products at the Gluten Free Food & Allergy Show in Auckland.

 (L-R) Brooke, Madison, and Kendall, Bürgen’s Gluten and Dairy Free Bread Ambassadors.
(L-R) Brooke, Madison, and Kendall, Bürgen’s Gluten and Dairy Free Bread Ambassadors.

As a first time visitor to the show, which was held in Auckland in May, I was amazed by the crowds of visitors and the huge variety of products to sample, wonderful tastes, and friendly people to meet. So while it’s hard to pick out the highlights, here’s a small selection.

  • The scent of Hendersons Fine Foods’ bacon greeted us at the door, and had us returning for seconds before we left again, several hours later. This stand was clearly one of the overall highlights of the show, judging by the throng of people surrounding it. Luckily for consumers, this amazing bacon is available in a lot of supermarkets nationwide.
  • Kiwigarden’s freeze dried Apple Slices and Mixed Berry Yoghurt Drops prompted a purchase for my own lunchbox. Their Sweet Corn Kernels were surprisingly sweet, and hard to leave behind.
  • Urban Appetite’s Hickory Smoked Barbecue Sauce was an absolute hit. The pizza they served it on was mouth-wateringly good.
  • Purebread’s Garlic Flatties proved my favourite garlic bread of the show.
  • Hubbards’ brand new Muesli Bars (Vanilla & Almond, Berry, and Apricot) tasted somehow even better than the muesli.
  • FreshFields’ Tropical Fast & Fruity pourable chunky fruit quickly found its way onto a bowl of yoghurt mixed into Vogel’s new Apricot, Almond & Quinoa Luxury Blend once I got home, making for a tasty afternoon snack.

Snacks and ready meals

Besides all the great individual impressions at the show, one thing that stood out was the great variety of quick snacks and ready meals on offer. When considering gluten free food it’s usually the breads, pastas and cereals that come to mind first, but there’s actually another side to eating gluten free that’s rather more difficult to manage.

A lot of everyday products such as sauces, ready meals, and quick snacks (even potato chips) contain gluten, and many muesli bars, being traditionally made from oats aren’t gluten free either. This is why it was so refreshing to see so much that catered to this side of the gluten free market at the show.

John Crombie of Crombie & Price shared that they’ve just launched nākd (raw fruit and nut) bars and mini moos (gluten and dairy free chocolate bars) in New Zealand.

The Kiwigarden freeze dried snacks are another great addition to this category, though they do warn that they may contain traces of gluten, and hence won’t be suitable for those with coeliac disease.

Three bags of delicious Sunny Hill Kumara Chips landed in our shopping bags at the show. Sunny Hill Kumara Chips come in three flavours: Original, Salt & Pepper, and Sweet Chilli, which looked to be the most popular flavour of the show. These are not only a gluten free alternative compared to most brands of potato chips, which do contain gluten, but they’re a healthier snack choice too. They’ve already made an appearance in supermarkets since the show, which is sure to please those consumers who discovered them there.

Another thing I’m excited about are AB International’s MTR Ready to Eat Curries & Rice. These are authentic Indian meals, gluten free and vegetarian and ready to go after a couple of minutes in the microwave. I’ve seen these in a couple of supermarkets already, and they had a very busy tasting station at the show. Products like these are a lifesaver for lazy cooks such as me. Another popular treat at the show were Sealord’s Hoki Gluten Free Crunchy Crumb Bites, a follow up from the Gluten Free Hoki Fillets they launched at last year’s shows.

Lastly, seeing Urban Appetite’s sauce selection on supermarket shelves would make my weekly shopping trip much easier. Sauces can be hard to replace, so rather than leaving consumers to read through countless ingredients lists, having a known and trusted gluten free brand to turn to would be a breath of fresh air.

Overall, the show was an exciting experience, and it was wonderful to see so many new products added to the gluten free category, adding further to the growth that’s been noticeable even in the scant two years for which my shopping has been restricted to it. Each new product in the gluten free category that finds its way onto supermarket shelves makes the lives of a significant portion of consumers much easier. I’m sure the same applies to those whose diets are restricted in other ways due to allergies and food intolerances.

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