Demand for 'free from' products is on the up - and one Kettering couple are using their loaves to grab a slice of the market.
Valeria Mizuno-Turner and her husband James Turner founded the Incredible Bakery Company in 2013, looking to feed those with dietary requirements who struggled to find baked goods they could eat elsewhere.
And with more and more people looking to reduce their meat, dairy and gluten intake they've cornered part of the vegan and gluten-free market, seeing a 25 per cent increase in sales in both 2020 and 2021 after a boom in interest.
Valeria said: “People with intolerances suffered when there was panic buying because often other people would buy the gluten-free flour or bread if that’s all that was available.
"But we were still able to make and deliver our products across the UK. That, plus the growing interest that many people have in reducing dairy or wheat in their diet mean we had a huge growth in sales during the last two years.”
The couple started the business when their son, now aged 11, was unwell and diagnosed with food allergies as a baby.
They had to rethink how to feed him and learn how to make food that he could enjoy.
Valeria said: "I realised that there was nothing available and that there was a gap in the market - the bread that we were given by the NHS for our son came from America for example.
"So, I started making my own bread and then selling it to friends and family and the business grew from there.”
Fast-forward nine years and they are now own one of the UK’s leading online vegan and gluten-free bakeries.
They sell bread, cakes, pastries, and 'free from' ingredients across the UK to individuals and businesses including restaurants, hotels, and retailers.
The business does not use any of the 14 most common food allergens in any products including wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and soya.
The couple moved to Warkton from London after seeing an advert for a relocation grant, which supported businesses moving to Northamptonshire. The firm as based at Moorfield Farm.
Valeria said: “It was a big leap moving with a young child and a young business, but Northamptonshire has been a great base for us.
"It’s easy for us to distribute all over the UK and get our products to other people.
"We now have seven members of staff and a factory where we make, bake and distribute all our products from.”
More than 500,000 people took part in Veganuary last year - a pledge to eat only vegan food during January - and to celebrate this year, the Northamptonshire bakery has launched a new sourdough loaf.
Many people are turning to plant-based diets for their health as well as environmental and animal welfare concerns, with the number of vegans in the UK quadrupling between 2006 and 2018.
Others are cutting out dairy and gluten for lifestyle reasons - and Valeria insisted that baked items can be just as tasty even without the traditional ingredients.
She said: “Taste and texture are really important to us. Unlike some supermarket free-from products which might look the same as traditional products, our number one priority is making sure things taste good.
"We don’t use artificial flavourings or preservatives and we focus on high quality ingredients. The products might be free from all the allergens but they are still delicious.”