Woolworths FreeFrom Macro Gluten Free Range Drowns the Coeliac Market in Australia!
Imitated by Woolworths...
Woolworths FreeFrom is a brand under Woolworths, one of Australia's most powerful and popular supermarkets. Situated in hundreds of locations throughout Australia, with a large range of products it has become a large public organisation in Australia listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and is continuing to expand as we speak.
The FreeFrom range consists of foods that are primarily gluten and wheat free. Many products under this range are dairy free as well. The range includes a variety of items, from cookies to cakes to pancake and pizza base mixes, all of which are gluten free. Sounds nice and all, but WAIT...
Long before Woolworths created the FreeFrom range, they carried many gluten free specialty products of many different brands. They stocked these products in their specialty aisle of their supermarkets and sold them to the public. Over time they looked at which products were popular and ones that were good sellers. From this, they calculated the possibility of raising the prices but realised that they couldn't easily set their own prices on these products (due to the predetermined selling prices on these items). They investigated ingredients on these products and developed their own gluten free range (a supposed imitation of the original products). Hence, the "Woolworths FreeFrom" range was developed some years ago.
Case in point: The Woolworths FreeFrom Gluten Free Pancake Mix was developed as a result of the VERY Popular BASCO Buttermilk Pancake Shake stocked previously. (I personally found the BASCO gluten free pancake mixes to be very good for breakfast.) You can now only find the BASCO pancake mixes at a limited number of IGA stores and privately owned supermarkets and it is unfortunately highly disadvantageous to BASCO. Alas, the Woolworths FreeFrom pancake mix is of significantly lower quality, and is not as popular with the market as the previous product.
Woolworths FreeFrom Range
Support the brands that support you!
Woolworths and Coles are becoming very powerful companies - almost too powerful for my liking. It is important for any consumer buying a product made under the Woolworths brand to be aware that these items have not been made to convenience customers. Woolworths did not create the FreeFrom range out of the kindness of their hearts - it has been merely for one purpose and that purpose only - make more money. Woolworths no longer has to follow the recommended retail price (rrp) of manufacturers - they can set their own! They developed them after carrying products from a variety of different brands and analysing the most popular selling products. The recent addition of the Macro range, which includes products where the sugar and fat are kept to a minimum has also kicked many of the gluten free specialty brands into financial stress, some even into receivership!
We, as customers, need to be discerning and not place our eggs in one basket. Woolworths could decide to pull the pin any day with their FreeFrom range of products if they feel they could be making more money elsewhere. By then, these original brands could be out of business, making it VERY hard to find good gluten free products. I personally break my back to support these smaller companies like BASCO, etc. as these brands have actually gone to the effort to endorse themselves with the Coeliac Society, created reasonably cost-competitive products and are very open to customer's needs. I would suggest you try to do the same.
How can you help? If you shop at large supermarket chains
like Woolworths, Coles, etc. there are a great range of products to
choose from. I'm not encouraging anyone to avoid shopping at these
stores. I do encourage however, where possible, to buy items not made
by the brand of the supermarket (i.e. Woolworths, Coles, etc.). Every
country has different major supermarkets and I encourage you to do the
same, if possible. Let's help keep those original products in the market. If a small corner shop doesn't carry a product you're after, maybe suggest they order it it in. You never know, Woolworths may find it even MORE feasible to re-intoduce their other brands to the shelf and eliminate their FreeFrom range should it not adequately sell!