|New gluten-free offerings at Wegman's include brownies, cookies and cupcakes.|
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., which operates 85 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts, has launched an extensive line of gluten-free baked foods in the bakery departments of all Wegmans stores.
“We’re very proud of the work that has gone into these new bakery items,” said Mike Gross, category merchant for bakery at Wegmans. “Customers have been telling us for some time how much it would mean to be able to pick up a delicious, gluten-free dessert when there’s no time to bake at home, and we believe these will get a big thumbs up for taste.”
All of the items are baked and packaged in a dedicated, gluten-free facility to prevent any cross contact with gluten-containing foods or ingredients. The product lineup includes chocolate brownies, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles and cupcakes.
“We’re working hard to expand our selection to include gluten-free breads and cakes, but we think all Wegmans brand products should be as good as or better than national brands,” Mr. Gross said. “Until the breads and cakes meet all of our goals for quality, taste, nutrition, and affordability, we’ll keep tweaking them.”
Mr. Gross said the decision to offer gluten-free baked foods arose a few years ago when customers looking for gluten-free versions of desserts like cookies, brownies and cakes told the supermarket chain how hard it was to find good-tasting, affordable treats for birthdays, family parties, and other celebrations.
“We wanted to help and got started by building a dedicated, gluten-free test kitchen near our corporate headquarters in Rochester,” he said.
One of Wegmans’ artisan bakers, Patty Fowler, and Wegmans Chef Christine Hellman, who oversees new product development for the grocery section of stores, worked for a year together to create Wegmans gluten-free baking mixes for cakes, brownies and cookies.
Next, Wegmans baked ready-to-eat versions of the items for a pilot program at the Pittsford and East Avenue stores, just across town from the gluten-free test kitchen.
“We used the same recipes for the ready-to-eat cookies and cupcakes that we used in the packaged baking mixes, so customers who’d fallen in love with the mixes could get the same great flavor and texture in the fresh-baked version,” Mr. Gross said.Wegmans said its gluten-free test kitchen couldn’t make enough product to supply all 85 stores, so the company looked for a baking partner. It chose Get Fresh Bakehouse in Fairfield, N.J. At Get Fresh Bakehouse, a pastry chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America oversees the production of the gourmet bread and sweets coming from the dedicated, gluten-free facility.