CHICAGO — The gluten-free market has not gone away. Instead it may be evolving. A March 5 session at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2012 in Chicago focused on certification, equipment and nutrition within the gluten-free market.

Jennifer Williams, senior applications scientist for Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo., gave a presentation titled “Gluten Free: Baking the Better Bread” that was followed by a question-and-answer session.

A question on certification asked what bakers should strive for to achieve gluten-free certification — less than 20 parts per million (p.p.m.), 10 p.p.m. or 8 p.p.m.? The Food and Drug Administration in August 2011 reopened the comment period for its 2007 proposal on labeling foods as “gluten-free.” Ms. Williams said 20 p.p.m. or less of gluten is a common certification standard and one the U.S. government may set.

Dan Best, president of Best Vantage Inc., Northbrook, Ill., and director of sales and technical services for flax company Enreco, Inc., Newton, Wis., said groups and associations that certify products as gluten-free are “calling the shots.” He said their p.p.m. standards might carry more weight in the gluten-free market.
Bakers switching to gluten-free production also may need to take equipment into account. Ms. Williams said standard equipment may not work as well with gluten-free products. For example, the thickness of gluten-free dough may cause problems with dough depositors. Making gluten-free product more processor-friendly may lead to proofing problems, she added.

Jerry Murphy, president and general manager of Rondo, Inc., Moonachie, N.J., spoke in an earlier March 5 session titled “How to make a niche product on existing equipment.” When switching to gluten-free production, companies may experience problems in getting production lines to reach the proper speed, he said.

In her session, Ms. Williams said the next generation of gluten-free products may focus on nutritional aspects. Many gluten-free items on the market today have little fiber or protein, she said.

To increase fiber or protein levels, formulators might add such whole grain flours as those from amaranth, buckwheat, chia, millet and quinoa. Buckwheat actually is not wheat and does not have gluten, Ms. Williams said. When using these specialty flours, bakers still may need to blend them with primary gluten-free flours from rice, brown rice, tapioca, waxy rice and sorghum, Ms. Williams said.

Rice bran, inulin, flax and resistant starch also have fiber. Ms. Williams said a gluten-free roll with potato-based resistant starch had 5 grams of fiber, which compared with 1 gram of fiber in a control gluten-free roll.

The gluten-free market appears to have staying power. One in 133 Americans have celiac disease and must avoid gluten in their diets, Ms. Williams said. According to London-based Leatherhead Food Research, the market for gluten-free foods in the United States and Western Europe was worth about $3.5 billion in 2010.