In an exclusive interview with BakeryAndSnacks.com, Markku Krutsin, vice president of Raisio’s northern European food operations, explained that the gluten-free cereal brand was first conceived some years ago with the Finnish market in mind.
In giving the range a facelift, Krutsin said that one objective is to make it more ‘international’, reflecting Provena’s geographical reach today, and Raisio’s future growth aspirations for the brand.
“Provena is now on sale in Finland, Sweden, the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Poland, and Germany,” he said. “To launch this brand into new markets and develop existing markets, we felt it was important to give it a new, more international image. Now everything is in English.”
He said new look Provena will launch in Finland on 1 September, after which it will be rolled out across other European territories.
Poland is Provena’s newest market - the gluten-free cereals have only been on sale there since last year.
“There is a market for gluten-free foods in Poland and it is increasing all the time but food intolerances are not as understood in eastern Europe as they are in western and northern Europe,” Krutsin told BakeryAndSnacks.com.
In contrast, he said awareness of food allergies and intolerances in the US, the UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Scandinavia is quite high, to the extent where in the UK, the category is attracting consumers who don’t actually suffer from any food intolerances.
“These new consumers are so called lifestyle users – they are not suffering from intolerances but are willing to invest in their health and wellbeing by buying free-from products,” he said.
This is reflected in Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), which tracked 2628 new gluten-free product launches in the UK between 2006 and 2010. Spain was the next most prolific market, with 1444 gluten-free launches listed over the period, followed by 1348 in Germany.
At present, Provena isn’t actually present in the UK. However, Raisio is definitely not ruling out entry into this market. “We are not there yet but I hope we will be some day,” said Krutsin.
In terms of the importance of gluten-free in relation to Raisio’s business as a whole, Krutsin says it is a key focus area.
“It is a niche area and therefore volumes are quite low compared to our mainstream business in these categories, but compared to other niches it’s quite big. For this reason we take a step-by-step approach, developing one or two products each year.
Besides designing new gluten-free products, Krutsin said Raisio’s R&D focus is on developing better tasting gluten-free products. “People who eat gluten-free products want them to taste the same as normal products. So that is one driver for our R&D in future.”