The true cost of the DF, GF ice cream cones – more than £3 a box!

As we ran out of the much loved dairy free, gluten free ice cream cones several weeks ago, I decided to order some online this evening. I keep wasting my time and petrol driving all the way to our not so near Sainsbury’s and they never have them anymore.

I am a big fan of online shopping, particularly for groceries, so am not sure why I didn’t do it the minute we last ran out. Anyway, once the children were in bed, I got straight on the case and am still reeling from the shock. I had totally forgotten about delivery charges. It doesn’t feel so bad when you are charged £5 for a ‘big shop’, as it feels worth it just to have someone else pack it all and lug it to your front door, but when you are just ordering a few packets of biscuits etc it feels very wrong.

The first thing I did was run a search on the specific ice cream cone (Barkat Waffle Cones) that Zac loves and was happy to see they are quite widely available online – at most of the specialist retailers for food intolerants. I was staggered by the price, they now seem to be around the £4 a box mark with most of the retailers. Every time I have ever bought them in the supermarket they were around £3 and a high percentage were smashed to pieces, so it is a very high cost per cone!

So to make it worthwhile, I decided to shop around and see what else I could try that is new, to top up my basket. As most of you will know, the mainstream supermarkets do not stock a wide variety of gluten free, dairy free foods and I am on a mission to find some new biscuits, crackers and perhaps pasta shapes. I soon found some that looked good and were an ok price, mostly between £2 and £3 per pack – not cheap but the norm in ‘our world’.

So I had just over £12 worth of goods in my basket – ice cream cones, biscuits, crackers, pasta shapes and a chocolate muffin cake mix. It felt like a lot but as these were mostly new products and I was curious to try them, I thought it was worth the order. It was only once I was several steps into the checkout process that the final total came up - £18.95 – they added a £6.50 delivery charge. My heart skipped a beat – and not in a good way.

Needless to say, that ended that transaction and so I pushed on to see where else I could find them. I found another well-known online retailer that carries a huge amount of gluten free and dairy free products and was happy to find them but they were at a slightly higher price. Same thing happened though, got right to the end and then got hit with the delivery charge - £4.75 this time. That is when I started to get so cross I had to stop.

I know that these suppliers have to pay large delivery costs and I know that the products are expensive to make or source or import but seriously, don’t they think we have been punished enough?

I also noticed that the ice cream cones are available on prescription through one of the large pharmacies. They charge nearly £5 a box for them. Why? If you can get them a pound cheaper in a supermarket, on the very rare day they appear on the shelves, why on earth would you waste your prescription on them? We are not eligible for a prescription because no-one seems to want to test Zac, but even if we had one, I think I would struggle to bring myself to use it, knowing that the prices were hiked so deliberately.

So now I am furious. It just feels that there is no way to feed my intolerant child without paying ridiculous amounts of money to pharmacists, logistics companies and greedy retailers. Clearly they are operating in a recession proof market. They know people need these foods and have no qualms about taking advantage.

I know I can and should make most foods for Zac. I do try but why should I be punished if I do choose to buy him an off the shelf biscuit! It is a nightmare at the moment. Despite this miserable weather our local ice cream van comes round every day. Zac is three and he knows what that jingle signifies and although he knows he can’t get one from the ‘man’ he asks me every day if he can have his special ice cream in a cone! I want to be able to say yes.

So now I am faced with the choice of spending over £5 delivery charge on cones that are already £3 or drive the twenty minutes to my local supermarket and face the possibility of an empty shelf. Even if I order them from Sainsbury’s online, I am still going to get hit with around £5 delivery charge and run the risk of them being smashed to pieces on the van.

It seems the only way to get a free delivery is to spend over £100 – easy enough done when you are being charged around three times more for many ‘free from’ food items. I feel so angry, I can’t bring myself to decide right now. I just wish I could find a way around this. It is not right that this is happening. Rant over. Good night.

12 Replies

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  • my monthly shop supermarket is about 50 miles away so to stop the problem of empty shelves i am able to phone up and get some items put aside. it means sometimes i have to get 6 of an item but the sell by dates last for ages. maybe you could approach your supermarket and ask them if they could do the same for you ???

    good luck :-)

  • Thanks so much. That is a great idea. I will give it a go! Best wishes.

  • I dont know if this will help or not but I ordered the genuis pies from Tesco in with an online shop and they were really bashed when they arrived so i phoned up and complained that they were practically uncookable anymore and they gave me a refund for them and spoke to the delivery drivers and told them all to be more careful with fragile items. I know this doesnt help with actually having a cone to give your boy but at least if they arrive and are smashed you wont have paid for them but can still use them as waifers in a bowl of ice cream!

  • I have a delivery coming tomorrow now and if they are smashed I will take your advice. Both good ideas. Much appreciated.

  • I have to admit that every time I have had a product which is unusable because of poor handling Asda has given me the money back. I get my milk in cartons and two were squashed, OK I could decant the milk into another container but-- they were delivered in a poor state---- my peeve is that when I get something delivered which is totally unusable (like the afore mentioned cones) the cash back does not make up for the fact that you cannot have that food until you go and get more.

    How you would get on from non-supermarket merchants I do not know.

  • That is a good point. It is nice to know that they are doing the right thing, but a shame they cannot be more careful in the first place, as you say, you order it because you need it!

  • Hi I have just seen some gf icecream cones a box of 12 for £2.21 and £2.10 p+p which is cheaper than what you have mentioned from VIT SHOP google it if your interested? Just thought I'd let you know about them for Zac.

  • That does look a good price. Thanks so much for the tip. Much appreciated.

  • I think I would get a special little bowl with Zac's name on and when the ice cream man comes, go to him for the ice cream like every other child, but just get the ice cream. To make it special you could buy some of Zac's favourite toppings in for him to choose and sprinkle. Even get some of the GF wafer biscuits (I think Tesco/Morrissons do some for about £1.00) think they are choc orange wafers separately wrapped, or GF choc chip cookies to crumble on the top. It must be heart breaking - I keep watching for my little boy who is 10 but so far so good. He is a veggie, and to be honest, I think I'd rather cater for a Coeliac! Good luck - love to Zac.

  • Thanks for this lovely idea and nice comments. That is a very nice idea. I will check out the wafer biscuits. I have some cones being delivered tomorrow and if they are smashed up, I will find a way to artistically use them up on his ice cream!

    I do feel for Zac but he is so great about it and it could be worse. I just hope that I can do something to help make life easier as he grows up and in some way help others too.

    I am always encouraged when I see the publicity Coeliac is getting but am also slightly baffled that no-one seems to pick up on the fact that a lot of Coeliacs can't tolerate dairy either. Lots of the 'on the shelf' GF products contain dairy, so many sufferers still can't buy them. So there is still more work to be done there! Fingers crossed your young man stays healthy, but at least you will be able to recognise the signs if not. Best wishes. Nicola

  • May I be really rude and ask why the doc will not test Zac---I realise you may not want to tell us why and it is OK if you tell me to mind my own business :) However, if he was tested and diagnosed you could get the boring stuff on 'script, freeing up cash for the more boy friendly stuff for him,,,,,and the free from aisle would not make your wallet so scared.

  • Hiya, thanks for the contact. I have no problem with sharing our story. Zac did have a blood test almost a year ago but the result came back negative. The paediatrician discharged us and said he did not need to see us again - by letter.

    However, in the weeks running up the test, Zac had to eat all of the foods we think he is intolerant to, to get a positive result. But it made him so ill, perhaps he just didn't eat enough. Within days of the blood test, he was in hospital (a different hospital) with a temperature of over 40 degrees. The staff were convinced he must have an infection and spent all day testing him, while he slept and burned up.

    They found nothing wrong. I explained that he had spent the previous three weeks being 'techincally poisioned' and they agreed it was probably just his immune system 'giving out' after weeks of being unwell. Zac has violent diarrohea after just a trace of milk protein in food and wheat seems to aggravate him and give him a very distended abdomen and stomach pains.

    I went back to my GP after Zac recovered from this episode and he agreed that perhaps Zac should have the gut biospy but advised me to see another paediatrician at another hospital first. So we did that. This new doctor did not think it was necessary. He just advised us to keep Zac clear of all gluten, wheat and dairy for another year and see if he is better. He advised us to see the dietitian too.

    So that is where we are. Zac's diet is extremely carefully monitored. He is doing well very well now and looks like a normal, healthy and happy boy. I think that is part of the problem, he was very young when I started to notice his reactions to foods and alter his diet accordingly. So he never 'failed to thrive'.

    The first doctor even congratulated me on keeping him so well, as many children become very ill and fail to thrive with these kinds of problems. But as I explained, I am not going to 'poison' him every day, he is well because I ensure he has a very pure diet.

    But I do believe, he has an underlying condition that needs to be assessed. Just removing all of his triggers puts a sticking plaster over his condition. At the moment, I cannot be sure if he just has intolerances or is actually a Coeliac sufferer or has problem in his gut. If it is intolerance, he may grow out of it and we could challenge him in the future, but if it is Coeliac that would be a big and pointless mistake.

    He has never even been properly examined or scanned. The blood test is the only thing that has been done. I do know that his skin has flare ups and he is allergic to cats and has hay fever. The doctors seem to think labelling him 'atopic' is enough. He know has an inhaler as he is starting to develop asthma too. So I do feel very much like we have been putting in a 'pending' type file and they will only take an interest in his case if I were to let him get so ill that he needed hospital treatment.

    A scandal isn't it?

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