Special Report: Gluten-free enters the mainstream

by Donna Berry
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NurturMe cookies, gluten-free
NurturMe cookies combine quinoa, amaranth, millet and sorghum.

Functional and free-from options

NurturMe, Austin, Texas, now offers organic ancient grain-based cookies with probiotics. The cookies are free from gluten, dairy, soy and egg. The probiotics further support the brand’s “tummy friendly” marketplace positioning for children with digestive issues. The company’s offerings include infant cereals and toddler snacks made from organic quinoa, which the company promotes as being hypoallergenic and easy to digest.

The cookies combine quinoa, amaranth, millet and sorghum to deliver a complete and balanced protein with all essential amino acids and immune-boosting antioxidants. They come in cocoa, honey and maple with cinnamon flavors.

“As moms, we understand how stressful feeding can be,” said Caroline Freedman, chief executive officer and co-founder. “Whether it’s special dietary needs or simply picky eaters, we’re taking our naturally gentle approach a significant step further to help take the worry out of mealtime. From our healthy new cookies, which parents can actually feel good about, to our ‘free-from’ products with the added benefits of probiotics — we’re leading the charge toward overall nutritional and digestive health in little ones.”

Daiya pumpkin spice Cheezecake, gluten-free
This autumn, Daiya Foods will offer Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake made with a gluten-free crust.

There’s no doubt that gluten-free claims will continue to grow, as the free-from movement gains traction. The elimination of food ingredients and components from everyday foods resonates with consumers on avoidance diets, and the number of such consumers is growing, either for medical reasons or wellness benefits.

This is driving gluten-free claims in non-grain-based foods ranging from dairy products to prepared meals, both animal- and plant-based. For example, this autumn, Daiya Foods Inc., Vancouver, B.C., will offer limited-edition Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake. The cheesecake is made with a gluten-free crust, and the produce is free of dairy, gluten and soy.

Concord, N.H.-based Blake’s All Natural Foods, a business unit of Conagra Brands, recently introduced gluten-free frozen meat pies. They are made with ingredients perceived as not being artificial.

Blake's gluten-free meat pies
Blake’s All Natural Foods recently introduced gluten-free frozen meat pies.

New Millet Tots from RollingGreens Food, Boulder, Colo., are a whole grain alternative to tater tots, which are traditionally potato based, and depending on the other added ingredients, may or may not be gluten-free. The frozen bite-size tots come in Italian herb, original and spicy sweet varieties. One serving is about 10 of the vegan, non-G.M.O. tots and provides 1 to 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, nutrients typically unavailable in the traditional potato version.

“They are our version of potato tots but made with an organic ancient whole grain,” said Lindsey Cunningham, co-founder and chief operating officer. “Millet on its own has a slight bitter taste, but it absorbs flavor. It’s a great canvas for ingredients such as garlic, basil and chilies.”

Gluten-free millet tots
New Millet Tots from RollingGreens Food are a whole grain alternative to tater tots.

With a growing number of gluten-free foods now formulated to be healthier alternatives to their gluten-containing counterparts, the category appeals to health-conscious shoppers as well as gluten-sensitive consumers. Improvements in taste, texture and nutrition will further support the market.

“Though sales have slowed notably in recent years, interest in gluten-free foods continues to grow, as consumers appear to regard the foods as healthier in one respect or another,” said Billy Roberts, senior food and drink analyst, Mintel, Chicago. ‘Increased competition in the category has improved the quality and variety of gluten-free options, and healthy opportunities exist for brands seeking to cater to the health-conscious gluten-free consumer.”

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