Meet Sheffield entrepeneur Bunmi Scott, founder of foodsyoucan.com – a resource website for multiple food intolerances, allergies, lifestyle and health…
What inspired you to launch Foods You Can?
Nine years ago I found out I had food intolerances and allergies. I was 24 years old and didn’t want to spend hours trekking round four or five supermarkets looking at food labels. With a background in marketing, I had an idea to launch a website which listed where you can buy specific foods for people with intolerances. I got in touch with leading businessman Douglas Gurr, the president of Amazon China, who liked my idea and passion so decided to invest and become my business mentor.
How has the business grown?
From the initial concept of listing free-from-food stockists, we’ve expanded the site to include product comparison. You can now see which stores offer the lowest prices, plus discounts, promotions, daily deals and vouchers. As well as that, you can now search for places to eat that offer free-from foods throughout the UK.
Do you think there are enough establishments offering free-from foods?
Yes, I do think that supermarkets and restaurants are now offering much more variety of free-from foods but not enough of them offer multi-allergy options. For example I’m dairy free and I’m vegan but many dishes will only cater for one or the other, not both. How do you know if you have a food intolerance or multiple allergies? Many people are non-believers so my aim is to educate on food allergies and intolerances. After eating a meal, many think it’s normal to feel full or bloated but the chances are you have an intolerance. Another service we offer is food testing – you can come to us, we’ll come to you for a blood test, or we can send you a non-bloodtest home kit. We send the tests to a lab and invite you to discuss the results with us.
How could the food industry improve the free-from offering?
Supermarkets need to lower their prices – I understand ingredients are more expensive but a gluten free loaf of bread for example is twice or even three times more expensive than a standard loaf. Also, packaging needs to improve, as many products are suitable for multi-allergies but don’t advertise this. What are the most common allergies and intolerances? There are so many, but very common ones include: gluten, dairy, nut, yeast and soya.
Do Free-From foods have more nutritional benefits?
A lot of celebrities set Free-From trends but often people don’t do their research to discover the health impacts. For example, the chances are you’ll gain weight not lose weight going Gluten-Free. Most Free-From Gluten choices are higher in sugar, fats and carbohydrates than your standard options. It’s important to check the nutritional information on the food labels to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. The Foods You Can website aims to provide as much information as possible on Free-From foods so people can make an informed decision.
How do people get in touch for more advice?
We have a 24 hour live chat service on the site, so we can offer bespoke advice. We get clients from all over the country asking us where to go for the best Vegan restaurants in Sheffield, or which ingredients to use to make a Gluten-Free lasagne etc. At the moment we’re receiving a lot of requests about cooking Free-From at Christmas so we’ve launched a recipe section on our website – they’re free to download. We have just moved from Ecclesall Road to a bigger premises on Chesterfield Road – our team is growing and growing. We have up to 40,000 visitors on our site each month.
FREE-FROM FOOD FACTS
• 2014 figures revealed the Free-From industry to be worth more than £355 million. • In 2018, it’s expected to be worth £538 million. • 55.2% of the population buy Free-From foods
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