Glanbia to kick-start gluten-free oat production

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

'We’re not going for decorative gluten-free. We want to differentiate from industry,' says Glanbia Nutritionals EMEA director
'We’re not going for decorative gluten-free. We want to differentiate from industry,' says Glanbia Nutritionals EMEA director

Related tags Gluten-free oats Wheat Oats

Glanbia Nutritionals will start milling gluten-free oats in November at its Irish food grade mill - verifying the entire process with a closed-loop supply chain.

The Ireland-headquartered ingredients major opened its oat mill in December 2013 but will see its first batch of certified gluten-free oats shipped out at the end of November under the brand name OatPure.

The oats came in flakes, jumbo flakes, and pinhead oats that can be used in bread, snacks, porridge and cookies.

Glanbia worked from seed to pack with a trademark-pending, closed-loop supply chain system Oat Secure to verify its oats contained less than 10ppm (parts per million) gluten – a first for the oat sector, it claimed.

Regular oats could contain anything up to 300ppm gluten due to wheat and barley contamination, therefore did not qualify as suitable for celiacs or those with gluten intolerances.

Speaking to at the oat mill in Kilkenny, Ireland, EMEA regional director for Glanbia Nutritionals Carla Clissman said the move was a game changer because of the ultra-low levels of gluten.

“We’re not going for decorative gluten-free. We want to differentiate from industry,”​ she said.

“We’re not just aiming for 20 parts per million, we’re going to 10 parts per million and more importantly we have a certified supply chain and ultra-modern factory throughout.”

No easy move…

Marion Murphy, business development executive at Glanbia Agribusiness, said ensuring oats remained contamination-free was no simple task and involved a careful look at the entire supply chain.

“We started back at seed preparation. We’re lucky as we have a seed assembly business, so we were aware of the rules there. But through all the growing, storing and milling stages – all of it is oat only,”​ she said.

For seed selection, it was about selecting the purest material from the start, she said. “That can be one of the biggest issues and along the seed supply chain there will be failures – contamination, agronomy issues, growing failures.”

Beyond seed selection, the growing stage was critical and therefore farmer selection was important, she said. “You have to take on farmers that will be able to keep us in crop rotation – one in every four years – because otherwise there is disease pressure. Soil type is also important.”

Farmer involvement critical

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Murphy said farmers worked to strict code of practice agreements and closely with Glanbia agronomists through the growing season. Harvests were then done with dedicated Glanbia-owned combines and transporting equipment to ensure no contamination risks.

“A closed-loop system makes it easier to do. For us and the farmers, it’s about trust – there are no short cuts in this,”​ she said.

Tom Finlay, head of business development and strategy at Glanbia Agribusiness, said the premium offered for gluten-free oats – up to twice the price of regular oats – was a draw for farmers.

“Also, there is a increased weighting on sustainability, quality and traceability and these gluten-free oats hit on all those,”​ he said.

Larry McDonald, head of quality for Glanbia Agribusiness, gave us more insight on the challenges of securing traceability throughout the supply chain and how the company has worked closely with farmers to enable the production of gluten-free oats. LISTEN BELOW. 

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