17 Mar 2016

The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards were very much a step in the dark when we launched them in 2014, before the new regulations covering the management of allergens in food service had even come in. But they were gratifyingly well received and, last year, had definitely found their place in the food service world. (See here for last year’s winners.)

Mintels’ latest report (March 2016) suggests that nearly 50% of the UK population is now eating ‘freefrom’ part of the time, either because they have health issue with a food or because they think ‘freefrom foods’ are healthier – so this is definitely no longer a niche area. And as consumers become used to finding ‘freefrom’ foods on every high street, so they expect to find them in every eatery – be that the local Nando’s or the fish and chip shop or the classy restaurant that they go to for a special night out. 

Indeed, one of the surprising features of the 2015 FreeFrom Eating Out Awards was the number of fish and chip shops now offering at least one ‘gluten-free’ night a week and often a ‘full time’ gluten-free offer. While one of the more exciting news stories this year was that Indigo, the very up market restaurant in the 5 star One Aldwych hotel in London’s Covent Garden, had been serving an entirely gluten and dairy free menu for six months without anyone ever noticing!! Definitely the way to go...

Although the 2016 FreeFrom Eating Out Awards do not open until mid-June, our new Business Development Manager, Kathy Askew, has been hard at work recruiting new entrants since the beginning of the year. We are particularly keen to get the high street chains involved in the awards this year as they are such an important driver for FreeFrom. Although we cannot yet reveal who they are, she has been having a good deal of success.

We are now also seeking sponsors for 2016. A number of sponsors from 2014/5 have returned but we still have five of the eight categories in need of sponsors – see here for full sponsorship details. We offer our sponsors good and on-going coverage through the awards year, not only on the site and at the presentation but through our active Facebook and Twitter sites.

More news on other exciting developments next month – but we are already planning our winners’ demonstration slots for Thursday afternoon at Food Matters Live 2016.

Meanwhile, contact michelle@foodsmatter.com for sponsorship or any other queries.