Bakers count the cost of gluten-free

by Charlotte Atchley
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Meeting affordable price points continues to be a challenge for gluten-free formulators, one that Didion Milling, Johnson Creek, Wis., expects bakers will continue to try to offset.

“We anticipate that formulators will continue to look at alternative ingredients like corn,” said Jeff Dillon, the company’s vice-president of sales and marketing.

Substituting non-gluten-containing flours for wheat flour gets expensive because many of the base grains, gums and starches come at a higher cost than conventional ingredients.

“(Bakers) want the attributes, and they want the best product possible but at the lowest possible cost,” said Elizabeth Arndt, Ph.D., director of R.&D., ConAgra Mills, Omaha.

Blending answers many gluten-free formulating concerns, especially in terms of functionality and nutrition, but controlling cost often remains one of the highest priorities.

While ingredients in the gluten-free spectrum tend to be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, some sit on the more affordable side. Basic starches such as corn, potato, tapioca, rich and sorghum typically offer savings. On the flour side, Dr. Arndt suggested sorghum, rice and millet as good workhorses, or a custom multigrain blend. However, commodity markets have the final say.

“We do see prices fluctuate, and they do tend to fluctuate more than wheat and other traditional grains,” Dr. Arndt said.
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