Consumer demand for healthier products will push the UK’s gluten-free (GF) food manufacturers to make further reductions to the fat, sugar and salt content of their foods, industry experts have reported.
Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, founder of the GF food company Genius, said she was already working to make her company’s products healthier, in response to rising consumer demand.
It has been difficult for manufacturers to make GF foods that taste good without adding lots of fat, salt and sugar, said Bruce-Gardyne. “We’ve certainly been guilty of it as well,” she admitted. “GF is very hard to get that lovely softness and fat helps you to do that.”
Demand for healthier products
However, the company had been working to reduce the levels of salt, fat and sugar in some of its products and would continue to do so as the demand for healthier products continued.
Genius was also preparing to fortify its breads with the same vitamins and minerals used in regular wheat flour, such as iron, calcium and vitamin B1 (thiamin), she said.
“We are beginning to think about fortifiers, because it can only be a good thing, particularly as coeliacs and gluten-intolerant people are often low in particular vitamins and minerals.”
Although Bruce-Gardyne was working to make Genius’s products healthier, Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, founder of the FreeFromAwards, believed the GF sector had already made good progress. It wasn’t far behind the rest of the food industry, in terms of lowering its salts, fats and sugars, she said. Most food businesses had worked on reformulation over the years in response to criticism from government and health campaign groups, added Berriedale-Johnson.
“There was a tendency [in the past] when people started to manufacture GF to say it ‘doesn’t matter what we put in as long as there's no gluten’,” she said.
“I think it’s matured since then and we see healthier products because they [manufacturers] are aware that it’s one of the biggest growth areas and so it’s got to have a good health profile.”
GF food manufacturers had already made many changes to ensure their products were healthier than they were two or three years ago, added Berriedale-Johnson. “It has improved a lot over the years and we see evidence of that every year in our awards.”
Look out for our Big Interview with Berriedale-Johnson in this month’s Food Manufacture magazine.