EHL Ingredients sees 'opportunity' in gluten-free spices

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

EHL's sales of gluten-free cumin and coriander were "unexpectedly high"
EHL's sales of gluten-free cumin and coriander were "unexpectedly high"

Related tags Coeliac disease Gluten-free diet

EHL Ingredients is expanding its range of certified gluten-free spices in order to meet growing demand in the free-from category.

The UK-based company already markets gluten-free cumin and coriander and EHL is extending its range with 20 new ingredients on the back of strong product sales, NPD manager Kath Davies told FoodNavigator.

“We launched gluten-free cumin and coriander in January 2016 and very quickly sales were unexpectedly high. We launched these two products to test the market and gauge demand… We realised we needed to offer more so we've spent the last few months working up the current range,”​ Davies explained.

Ingredients in the new gluten-free range include dried ground turmeric, cassia, star anise, oregano, ginger, chilli, coriander seed, paprika and nutmeg. Herbs such as dried parsley, sage, basil and pepper have also been added and the company intends to extend the range further in the coming months.

EHL expects sales of its expanded gluten-free range to grow rapidly

“We’re always looking out for the next big food trend and we’re planning to expand this range and launch gluten-free herb and spice blends, seasonings and marinades in the coming months to strengthen our portfolio,”​ the innovation chief explained.

Gluten-free demand growth

Unveiling the launch, EHL said it was responding to consumer demand for gluten-free products, which it suggested has risen as a result of changing perceptions of “modern health and fitness”​ and the rising number of UK allergy sufferers.

According to data from YouGov, around 1% of UK adults suffer from coeliac disease while 13% of adults are choosing a gluten-free diet in the country. Market research group Mintel predicts that the free-from market will be worth more than £925m (€1.1bn) annually by 2021.

“Gluten-free really presents an opportunity for us, and for the food industry as a whole, and we are working hard to source and develop ingredients to ensure those with a gluten intolerance don’t have to compromise on flavour,”​ Davies said.

EHL has targeted herbs and spices that are already in high demand and the company expects to scale up sales rapidly. “We predict that the whole range will be popular and we have selected ingredients we know are popular in a conventional format, so this should translate into gluten-free too as manufacturers create alternative dishes.”

The company sees the greatest demand for gluten-free products from food manufacturers who are developing prepared meals, meal kits, sauces and world foods, Davies revealed.

Gluten-free guarantee commands price premium

While most herbs and spices are naturally gluten-free, Davies said that food makers are willing to pay a price premium for the added security delivered by the certification.

“Our gluten-free herbs and spices are priced around 25% to 30% higher than our conventional ingredients. Our customers need a guarantee that there has not been any cross-contamination in the supply chain and we can offer this for our gluten-free range,”​ she explained.

To ensure that all EHL’s ingredients are 100% gluten-free, it carries out a “rigorous auditing”​ process for all of its suppliers, the company said.

As part of its growth drive, EHL recently invested in a new facility to increase its manufacturing capacity by 50%.

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