Scandinavian frozen free-from major Fria will ramp up its UK presence over 2014, focusing on major retailers in particular, its export manager says.
Fria already has 22 free-from bakery products available online at GoodnessDirect – the website for UK-based wholesaler Goodness Food which it’s been working with since 2012. The range of products free from gluten, lactose and milk covers baked goods like bread, rolls and muffins to puff pastry, pizzas and desserts.
Gunilla Lisspers, Fria’s export manager, said the company was happy with its online presence via GoodnessDirect but wanted to gain traction on-the-ground in retailers across the country over the next year.
“For the moment, we’re in the online business as well as in more than 80 independent stores across England. We would also like to approach major supermarket chains – that’s the target for 2014,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“We would like, of course, to get bigger volumes and enable the British customer to reach our product everywhere. Online sales are very good as you can cover all of the UK, but we also want to be present in the larger supermarket chains,” she said.
She said Fria was at the beginning of negotiations with UK retailers. The company also had plans to expand its online presence in the UK, but Lisspers would not disclose further details.
She pointed to the frozen nature of Fria’s free-from bakery products as holding appeal among consumers.
“It’s convenient for shoppers to buy frozen gluten-free foods, because they tend to freeze it anyway because often there’s only one in the family who needs or eats the product,” she said.
Fria’s products were baked and frozen immediately to maintain freshness and quality, she said. The products had a shelf life of between 12 and 15 months and could be easily defrosted, or in the case of the puff pastry and pizza: Defrosted then baked.
The frozen range should also held appeal for retailers, she said, because of the reduced waste guarantee.
Lisspers said frozen foods and bakery products were very well accepted in Scandinavian markets – Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark – but are keen to secure share in the expanding UK market.
“The UK is one of the fastest growing free-from markets in Europe, so it’s very important for us to be there.”
According to Euromonitor International the frozen bakery market in Western Europe had a retail sales value of $1.5bn in 2013 and was set to soar to $1.67bn by 2017. Fria held a 0.5% share of this market in 2013. The frozen pizza category was even bigger, still at $5.1bn for 2013 set to grow to $5.7bn by 2017.
Fria has an annual turnover of around 100m Swedish Krona – around $15.5m - and is present in Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands, as well as the UK.