Gluten-free the key to boost craft bakery sales?

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wheat

The production of gluten-free products could be the way for craft
bakeries to increase sales, which are suffering in the face of
lower priced mass-produced goods from industrial bakeries,
according to German company Hanneforth Food For You.

The company, which presented its gluten-free product mixes at the Anuga trade show this week, claims that producing baked goods for coeliac sufferers is the key to increase sales in the German market. Coeliac disease, caused by an intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley, currently affects an average of one in 300 people in Europe and the US. In Germany the figure is higher at one in 200, while the UK reports a figure of one in 100. "As the diagnosis of gluten intolerance increases, gluten-free products are a great way to reach new business. And it is simple to produce them. The only requirement is to ensure the products are produced in a separate area to avoid contamination. The fact that the products can be produced on order means it's a no-risk business," said Udo Hanneforth, the company's managing director. Hanneforth Food For You, which was founded in January, supplies premixes for bread and fine bakery goods, as well as finished cookie products, to both consumers and manufacturers. The company claims the right mixture of rice flours is the key to successful gluten-free baked goods. "Cornflour leaves the product with an unpleasant taste, and also reduces the product's shelf-life because of its high starch content. The rice flour mixture we use not only results in a better tasting and longer lasting product, but also replaces the need for guar gum or another water-binding ingredient," Hanneforth told BakeryAndSnacks.com. Other industry experts, however, claim that all starch substitutes for wheat flour can give good results, depending on the particular needs of the product. "Potato, corn, rice and tapioca starches can all be used to form the bulk of a gluten-free bread product. They all give relatively good results, the main problem being that they tend to produce quite bland, colourless bread," said Eva-Maria Blixt, food technologist and product development manager at the UK's Village Bakery, which manufactures a range of gluten-free baked products. "Gums and celluloses are needed in order to improve the structural network. On an industrial level, it is difficult to leave these out as the resulting bread is brick-hard. Technically, these are not necessary if you can get enough air into the product," she added. Product mixes produced by Hanneforth Food For You include rice bread, potato bread, buckwheat bread and chestnut bread, as well as different varieties of sponge cake and waffles. An ingredient used extensively by the company in its products is plantain flour, made from 100 per cent dried plantain. The flour type is used in the company's banana bread premix, as well as in its finished cookie products, which contain 15 per cent of the banana-type flour. "Plantain contains no sugar so when it is dried it can produce a flour with about 80 per cent starch content, 6-7 per cent protein and 10-12 per cent water," said Hanneforth. The company said it is also in the first stages of testing the use of plantain flour as a possible ingredient for cereals and baby food. External links to companies or organisations mentioned in thisstory: Hanneforth Food For You

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