My name is Jasmine and I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease when I was three and a half years of age. I am now 19, live alone and am on a low but liveable income.
My concern is that a simple pizza with actually less ingredients in it than a normal pizza, has come to the price of £3.50!!! Its ridiculously small and I believe its unacceptable for you to be charging that price.
It’s not like I have a choice of pizzas like most people. And for people with coeliac disease that are unemployed it is just completely unaffordable. Also its definitely not worth the price for the size and quality of it.
I have been buying your products for a very long time now and it disgusts me that your prices are getting higher as the quality of your foods are decreasing. I would like to know whether there is anything your company can do to lower your prices as its not fair to people like me that are limited to their choices. I appreciate you reading this and hope to hear from you soon.’
Jasmine sent this to us yesterday evening – and presumably to a number of other people, including Sainsbury’s.
As it happens, we have tried the new Sainsbury’s gluten-free pizzas (scheduled for review in our new products section very soon) and although we were rather impressed with the quality (crispy base and plenty of tasty topping) it was really quite small, and, at £3.50, not cheap. So, like many other coeliacs and people with allergies who complain about the cost of freefrom food, Jasmine definitely has a point. But it is not quite as simple as she makes it sound.
Manufacturing freefrom, especially manufacturing bread or pizza bases which depend very heavily on gluten to make them ‘work’, is not easy. It requires a considerable investment in research to achieve a reasonable result, it sometimes (although not, I think in the case of this pizza) means using unusual and therefore expensive ingredients, and it will sell in very much smaller quantities than a more mainstream item. All of which means that the unit price will inevitably be higher than that of a mainstream product which is made in huge volumes and therefore benefits from economies of scale.
Whether it adds to the cost sufficiently to justify charging £3.50 for one small 8 inch pizza when you get one of their ‘standard’ 10 inch pizzas for £2.19 max. is, of course, a different matter. A 60% premium is a lot to have to pay.
FreeFrom is good for supermarkets. Yes, it requires more input than non-freefrom food – although, it is their suppliers rather than the supermarkets themselves who do the research and development work. But it gets them lots of good PR opportunities and it is one of the few sectors in the market which is continuing to grow at over 10% per year. We all know that they are in business to make money and that competition between them is cut throat but, if they really care about their food allergic/intolerant customers as they say they do, they must be aware that many of them are not only on restricted diets but on restricted incomes and that paying a 60% premium for their food is just beyond their means.
If Sainsbury’s want to keep their free from credentials bright and shiny, they need to make more effort to bring the prices of their freefrom goods to within shouting distance of their non-freefrom equivalents. Some of their competitors have done so (Tesco recently produce a range of chilled freefrom meals for £2.50 for a 380–400g meal) so I am sure that it is not beyond the wit of JS.