A Gluten-Free Future

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Gluten-free products, previously positioned only for gluten-intolerant consumers, are often perceived as less tasteful. However, with new production processes, companies are now enlarging the spectrum of gluten-free products with those that taste similar to traditional plain flour products. By Pascal Philibert, managing director, Philibert Savours

The gluten-free market is now offering new market perspectives; this trend allows consumers to have access to new types of products. The market is becoming even more demanding, opening up the possibility for developing every type of product that consumers want.

Solutions already existing on the market are widely varied for consumers that are dealing with gluten intolerance—there are indeed many types of flour available to replace plain flour, including rice flour, millet flour, sorghum flour and corn flour.

Unfortunately the use of gluten-free flour in recipes traditionally made with plain flour will not offer the same results. Plain flour cannot be replaced with the same quantity of rice flour for example and every kind of flour has its own characteristics. Several types of flour and powders need to be mixed together in order to achieve bread or pastries with the same texture obtained when plain flour is used.

In order to answer best these issues and propose glutenfree products as close to the plain flour products in terms of flavour, colour and texture as possible, the food processing industry has designed solutions that meets consumer requirements so that both gluten-intolerant consumers and those simply wishing to eat more healthily can enjoy glutenfree products at any time of the day.

Available Solutions Today

C. Thieux

It is crucial to understand the role of gluten first, in order to recreate it afterwards. Gluten gives kneaded dough its elasticity and makes cereal-based products baked in the oven, chewy. The process of replacing gluten can differ from one supplier to another.

Certain suppliers have underlined that a good gluten-free dough can be achieved by mixing 30 percent chestnut flour and 70 percent rice flour and by adding a hydrocolloid xanthan gum mix and a DATEM (E472e) emulsifier. These proportions enable manufacturers to obtain bread with organoleptic and gastronomic qualities on par with those made from other flour. The threshold is very strict as higher levels of chestnut flour lead to changes in quality—smaller loaves of bread, harder texture and a darker colour.

However, some companies have also been looking to cut out E numbers (European food additives) altogether and search for ingredients that give a finished product that closely resembles a white baguette. One such company is Philibert Savours. Great progress has been made in the bread sector and the pastry sector as much in terms of its appearance and texture as its flavour; gluten-free baguettes look and taste exactly like traditional ones.

When it comes to bread, the company has taken a giant step in terms of texture and flavour to obtain bread with no gum nor E-numbers. As the gum has been cut out, products are easier to digest and some of them are even allow manufacturers a clean label.

Production Process

The company has also improved the production process such that baguettes can be produced in semi-automatic mode at 1,200 baguettes per hour. This is indeed useful for manufacturers similarly searching for a higher efficiency. Gluten-free bread is often quicker to produce than ordinary bread as it does not need as much shaping—it is often produced as tin-baked bread. The material needs to be adapted for industrial production as the processes are very different and in some cases, need to be invented.

For products that require shaping, the process is more complicated as the machine and the mix need to work together. Equipment manufacturers and ingredients suppliers have to adapt to change and work closely with the equipment manufacturers so that customers can benefit from extremely performant turnkey solutions.

The ultimate goal here therefore would be to optimise the production processes, implement products on a production line, reduce and make the most of manufacturing rejects, enhance or reinvent recipes according to the process used.

Long-Term Evolution Of The Market And Main Challenges

Sales of bread and bakery products, as well as for gluten-free products have increased in recent years. The gluten-free market is a global market that is becoming even more demanding, opening up the possibility for developing every type of product that consumers want.

In the future, consumers will be increasingly enthusiastic about gluten-free products. They will enjoy eating gluten-free products as often as not with the exception of those with gluten intolerance who will be able to choose from an enhanced product range.

The future holds many possibilities, including the introduction of brands and retail chains offering gluten-free produce only, just as gluten-free restaurants are opening up today.

However, there are still challenges for the industry before reaching this breakthrough. Market players still need to improve their production to offer gluten-free products that are as appealing as their classic counterparts and to ensure that the product can be produced by machines, for both artisans and manufacturers.

The real challenge is to provide a wide product offering so that consumers can enjoy gluten-free products at any time without having to wonder about the quality or the taste.