Morrisons ‘Free From Feast’
I was recently invited by Morrisons to take part in their first ‘Free From Google Hangout’ to discuss the new developments and improvements in the Morrisons free from sector since we met in August last year.
In advance of the hangout, we each received 2 very intriguing substantial gift boxes brimming with free from products – with instruction not to open them until the right points of the discussion – this made the curiousity excruciating and I was desperate to see what was in the boxes and to find out more about Morrisons free from strategy and forecast for the coming year.
I am relatively unaccustomed to the hangout format but found the process flowed, made the best use of everyone’s time as well as being a cost effective way to lead a meeting. A win-win situation for all involved.
The presentation began with a review of how Morrisons have implemented changes to it’s free from range over the past year. Whilst playing catch up in 2016 in terms of the number and variety of free from products available compared to it’s competitors, it is evident to see that Morrisons have worked hard over the past year to challenge those competitors. Now boasting double the amount and variety of free from products available since last year, I certainly got the impression that Morrisons has listened to it’s customers to bring shoppers more choice than ever before within the free from sector.
A concept store in Calderdale has been introduced that merchandises the ‘Ambient’, ‘Chilled’ and ‘Frozen’ free from products together. Since then a further 40 stores have been dedicated space specifically for free from products and this is set to expand into nearly 100 more stores in 2017. Within the Ambient range can be found items such as green pea fusilli, triple chocolate chunk cookies, choccy buttons for the children, The Chilled section includes 85% sausages, coconut and almond milks and the Frozen range includes Yorkshire puddings, toad in the hole, curly fries, hash browns, homestyle chips and ice cream to name but a few. What is even more refreshing to see is that these retail at an affordable price as opposed to us free from customers paying the usual inflated price that comes with free from products – another example of how Morrisons have listened to it’s customers feedback.
So what is new for 2017?
In 2016 across the 3 core areas (Ambient, Chilled and Frozen), Morrisons had 123 free from products available, (17 of which were under their own free from label) yet in 2017 this has dramatically increased to 444 free from products (of which an impressive 70 are their own label free from products) and the goal is to dramatically increase this further.
And so to the grand reveal of our gift boxes, in the first there was a selection of Morrisons accessories perfect for picnics or outdoor dining in the Summer, some Camomile & Manuka Honey tea, as well as a mystery gift for to be opened later in the meeting and in the second there was an impressive and diverse range of some of the new products which included mini breadsticks, cheese crackers, red lentil fusilli, digestive biscuits, chocolate brownies, jam tarts, multigrain & cranberry bars, cornflakes, fruit granola and my absolute favourite, white chocolate chip & cranberry cookies. I defy anyone to realise they are gluten-free!
Upon opening these boxes of goodies, one thing was very evident. The new branding is so much better than the previous neon orange packaging that shouted “specialist product”. The new style on the contrary exudes high quality and deserves to sit proudly on any supermarket shelf, free from or otherwise. As a graphic designer the two styles of branding are worlds apart, another example to show that Morrisons care about their free from portfolio and the colour way is bang on trend too.
Those of you that already shop at Morrisons will be familiar with its unique Market Street counters and so I was really pleased to hear that they have been working closely with Coeliac UK to develop an accredited free from counter specialising in pizzas and to top it all off, they retail at £2.60 per pizza with as many different toppings as you desire. This is currently only available in the Guiseley, West Yorkshire flagship branch but the concept is due to expand into a further stores. On the plus side the chilled Margherita pizza and Pepperoni ones are available in 318 of it’s 472 stores so I am not complaining. As a family of 5 (with only one coeliac), we would be highly likely to buy free from pizzas for all the family as opposed to 1 free from and the rest regular.
And so as the meeting concluded I am excited to see how things expand over the next year particularly with key events such as Easter, Coeliac Awareness Week on 8th-14th May and in particular, Christmas.
Morrisons free from market is looking positively healthy.