Bakers have plenty of everyday experience with wheat flours, but many recent product introductions take their appeal from nonwheat grains milled into variety flours. Today’s gluten-free fad drives much of this, and rice flour applications have burgeoned. Here’s a look at this formulating trend in an exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A with PGP International’s Ryan Olson, sales director, and Yoshi Mochizuki, the company’s director of product development.
Baking & Snack: How has interest from commercial bakers in your company’s nonwheat flours changed in the past few years? What drives this change?
Ryan Olson: While rice has always been PGP International’ primary grain for use in the production of value-added baking and cereal ingredients, we have historically formulated many of our products with either wheat- and/or gluten-containing ingredients. In the late 1990s, PGP International observed an ever increasing number of gluten-free baking companies being established and seeking quality gluten-free ingredients. A few years later, we started seeing traditional baking companies add gluten-free product lines and even the additional dedicated gluten-free processing lines.
By 2008, PGP International was observing a significant portion of our growth from the gluten-free category. We were firmly committed to the gluten-free movement and providing innovative products and solution to our gluten-free customer base. Later that year, PGP International announced GFCO Certification. This attracted more and more customers to seek us out for our high-quality, certified-gluten-free ingredients.
Today, PGP International continues to see more and more of our of our customers’ requests for gluten-free versions of legacy products that had previously contained gluten. There appears to be no end to this shift away from wheat- and gluten-containing ingredients.
Which types get the most interest? Which ones deserve more attention? Why?
Yoshi Mochizuki: White and brown versions of medium grain (Uruchi) and sweet rice (Mochi) are highly desirable in gluten-free applications. They both contain high levels of amylopectin that help build viscosity and moisture retention, impart a desirable smooth and soft texture to baked goods and are excellent fat replacers. They also offer outstanding freeze-thaw stability (no syneresis).
What advice do you give customers to enable successful use of these flours? Different storage and handling needs? Different absorptions? Different processing requirements?
Mr. Mochizuki: Medium grain white rice flour is a good substitute for the starch part of wheat and medium grain brown rice flour for whole grain. Sweet rice flour has very slow starch retrogradation and prevention of syneresis for frozen products.
Pre-gelatinized medium grain rice flour is suitable of gluten replacement. Pre-gelatinized rice flour acts as a binder like gluten in wheat. Therefore, gluten-free bakery products can be produced using the pre-gelatinized rice flour and regular rice flour.
Can you share recent scientific research that documents the health and nutrition benefits of these grains?
Mr. Mochizuki: Rice is recognized as one of the safe grains for celiac disease patients (http://wheat.pw.usda.gov/ggpages/topics/Celiac.vs.grains.html). In addition, brown rice has beneficial nutraceutical properties, documented by M. Z. Islam, M. L. J. Taneya, M. Shams-Ud-Din, M. Syduzzaman and M. M. Hoque, “Physicochemical and Functional Properties of Brown Rice (Oryza sativa) and Wheat (Triticum aestivum) Flour and Quality of Composit Biscuit Made Thereof,” The Agriculturists 10 (2): 20-28 (2012).