Martina Zinsli, product manager of gluten free products at Jowa, said the company decided to rebuild one of its eight existing factories and convert it into a gluten-free centre because the company saw a gap in the market.
“We are a big production factory for bread, bakery and pasta – the biggest in Switzerland – and we saw the gluten-free market in Switzerland and Europe getting bigger and bigger,” she told BakeryAndSnacks.com. “The market is getting larger not only because of people suffering from celiac disease but also because of people who have gluten sensitivities.”
Jowa claims it is the first industrial bakery to tackle this market in Switzerland and will produce a range of gluten-free breads, including ciabatta, part-baked baguettes and frozen loaves, as well as pasta.
According to Zinsli, 1.5 per cent of the Swiss population suffers from coeliac disease, an intolerance to gluten which damages the gut, compared to 2 per cent in Nordic countries.
“This is still a niche market but we think the quality of our products will help the market grow,” she said. “Coeliac disease is recognised in Switzerland but the market is not as big as in Nordic countries or the US, for example.”
Zinsli said one of the problems faced by bakers is finding the technology to create gluten-free bread which is comparable in appearance, taste and texture to conventional products
“Gluten gives the structure of the dough of conventional bread and without gluten the dough is liquid and difficult to process – you need the right raw material and production technology to get to ‘normal’ bread and bakery products,” she said.
The complete Jowa gluten-free range will be on sale in Migros shops by the beginning of 2012 but the company will look to export further afield at a later date.
The gluten-free market
The global market for gluten-free products is predicted to show strong growth over the 2010-2015 period to reach $4.3bn (EUR 3.1bn), according to Datamonitor.
The US is the most established gluten-free market, and currently the only one where sales exceed $1bn (EUR7.2m) annually, reflecting the size of the population and wider product penetration.
In Europe, the strongest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2004 and 2007 was in Germany (11 per cent), followed by the UK (10.4 per cent), Spain (8.3 per cent), France (8 per cent), Sweden (6.8 per cent) and Italy (5.9 per cent).