Fi Global Insights is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

‘Starting my own business felt like a very natural move’ – Kirsty Dingwall [Interview]

Article-‘Starting my own business felt like a very natural move’ – Kirsty Dingwall [Interview]

© Fi Global Insights Women in Food Interview with Kirsty Dingwall
Kirsty Dingwall is founder of Scottish company Angelic, which makes allergen-safe cookies and savoury biscuits. As a food allergy sufferer herself, she understands the importance of reassuring consumers over ingredient formulations.

Angelic makes its products in a dedicated allergen safe factory, and they guaranteed to contain no tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, dairy, soya or eggs.

We caught up with her to find out more.

Inspiration for Angelic came from personal experience as you suffer from food allergies and so does one of your children. Did you ever expect yourself to become a businesswoman prior to this?

“I’ve aways had an interest in business, studying accountancy and finance at university, before starting my career with Ernst & Young, where I qualified as a chartered accountant.

“When I was 24, I created Angelic. Starting my own business felt like a very natural move: there’s lots of scope to be creative, and drive your own vision, which really appeals to me.”

Do you think having this personal cause has changed the way you do business?

“Here at Angelic, we truly understand our customers, and can empathise with the challenges they face when living with food allergies.

“In more recent times, we’ve entered the kids’ market and have re-purposed our brand with a mission to create safer school communities. This is a cause that I care deeply about. I really want to make a difference in society by raising allergy awareness among school-aged children and parents, to help protect those living with food allergies.”

You also set up the Safe for Schools initiative. What does this involve and do you feel it has been beneficial in making schools safer for kids with allergies?

“Our Safe for Schools initiative has two main activities: including allergy training for teachers, and Angelic allergy awareness packs, created for school children. We have partnered with the Allergy Badge, an accredited training program, and train teachers in a range of topics, including how to use an auto injector, as well as mental health and well-being.

“We have ambitions to roll out our partnership with the Allergy Badge to reach a wider audience and believe that our initiative will help to raise allergy awareness within schools and create a safer environment for those living with allergies.”

Allergy sufferers are often frustrated by manufacturers’ use of ‘may contain…’ on product packaging. Drawing upon your experience as a food manufacturer, have you found it complicated or more costly to create products that are guaranteed to be free from certain allergens?

“We manufacture our products in a dedicated allergen-free site and operate strict controls and testing to ensure that our products are the safest on the market. Product safety is paramount, and there’s certainly a lot of due diligence required in our supply chain.

“Certain ingredients that we use have a very limited choice of supply, which can lead to increased costs. Product testing is also a costly activity; however, it is vital to ensure the safety of our products.”

Food scientists are working on developing methods (including genetic modification) to remove allergens from certain food ingredients, such as peanuts. Do you welcome this?

“For some families living with food allergies, the consequences can be fatal, and this is a great concern for many. Through our consumer research, we spoke with a number of individuals who live with severe anxiety, and life can be very challenging at times.

“If scientists can find a safe and trusted breakthrough to help reduce the risk of severe allergic reactions, then I think this would be welcomed. The solution however must be subject to robust trials to ensure consumer safety.”

You recently picked up three Silver Awards at the Free From Food Awards for two your products: Safetylicious Oat Squares and Double Chocolate Cookies. What does it mean to have this industry recognition?

“The Free From Food Awards are one of the most credible in the free-from community, and to consumers, the logo signals both quality and safety. It means a lot to receive this industry recognition and it is very important to us. The awards are also a good way for both new and existing free-from consumers to discover our products!”

What are the next steps/milestones for Angelic?

“We are currently working on a range extension for our Kids Safetylicious Oat Squares and will be launching a new product over the coming months. We’ve also secured a large supermarket listing, and our kids’ range will be available nationwide [in the UK] from September. “This is a great step forward for the business, and we are working on plans to accelerate our allergy training within schools to coincide with this growth.

“We believe that there’s a great opportunity in the market to bring about positive change for the allergy community, and we’re committed to driving this movement.”