13 September 2013

Customer case study - finding a gap in the market

Our customer Tanfield Food has created a new range of convenient food suitable for people with food intolerances. Since launching the brand in May, it has been so successful that they are already planning to expand their range further.

Our customer Tanfield Food has created a new range of convenient food suitable for people with food intolerances.

The company, which rents one of our industrial units at Hownsgill Industrial Estate, in Consett, launched ilumi in May and the brand has been so successful, it is already planning to expand the range of nut, gluten and milk-free food even further.

Geoff Allison, Chief Executive of Tanfield Food, says the idea for ilumi came when the company identified a gap in the market for tasty and convenient meals that catered for the large and growing number of people in the UK with food intolerances.

The number of people looking for food that does not contain gluten and lactose is significant, with 2% of the UK population diagnosed as having an allergy or intolerance. A further 3 - 4% have diagnosed themselves as gluten and lactose-intolerant, while yet more react badly to foods containing these ingredients, but live with the discomfort they cause.

Availability of allergen-free foods

Geoff says the existing range of allergen-free foods was quite limited, which led Tanfield Food to look at creating its own products, which are sold online and then delivered directly to the consumer.

“What is available for people with allergies in retailers is all about bread, cakes and biscuits, but when it comes to convenient ready meals, the selection is very limited,” Geoff explains.

Tanfield Food, which has been based at our site in Consett since 2005, had already been manufacturing allergy-friendly food products for major retailers, so launching its own range of products was a natural next step.

Geoff says: “We offer fresh, vibrant tastes. Our customers won’t feel like they are missing out on anything by buying our products.”

One example of this is ilumi’s chicken Kerala. It was developed as an alternative to the popular curry chicken korma, but instead of creating an allergy-friendly korma by taking out vital ingredients, the company found another dish which was equally as tasty, but naturally nut, gluten and lactose-free.

Geoff says: “If you buy a ‘free-from’ korma, you are going to be aware that it won’t taste as good as the ones other people are eating. The Kerala is an authentic South West Indian dish which contains coconut milk instead of cow’s milk and it is naturally gluten-free. It is a fresh, modern and contemporary meal that can be enjoyed by everyone.”

Fantastic feedback

Since ilumi’s launch, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. It has received 550 pieces of feedback on Trustpilot, with an average score of 9.4 out of 10, making it the top-rated online grocer in the UK on that website.

Geoff says: “For us, it is all about trust, taste and good customer service. People with food intolerances tend to cook from scratch because they simply don’t trust products that are manufactured, but most of us have moments where we are in a hurry and need the benefits that convenience foods provide. Perhaps little Jimmy is off to play football and something quick and convenient is needed. We design all our recipes ourselves and we know where all our materials are coming from so we can make sure there is no cross-contamination.”

At the moment the ilumi range contains 30 products but the company is planning to expand this to 60 in the near future, creating new recipes based on customer suggestions and feedback.

Tanfield Food chose to base themselves at the Hownsgill Industrial Estate in Consett as the company’s founders, Roger McKechnie and Keith Gill, were from the area and wanted to produce great local food using trusted suppliers. Our site in Consett offers 24 hour access, site security and excellent access for large vehicles to load and unload.