Keeping up with the gluten-free trend


Increasing incidences of celiac diseases and heightened gluten sensitivity has generated high demand for gluten-free foods. For those consumers who have negative reactions to gluten -- the protein found in wheat and barley grains - eating it can produce stomach pains and bloating. Such food intolerances are now more widely understood and so more people are opting for ‘free from’ and ‘clean label’ products as a wellbeing lifestyle choice.


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Global sales of gluten-free products jumped 12.6 percent in 2016 to $3.5 billion, compared with overall packaged foods growth of around 4 percent, according to Euromonitor. The forecast for this sector is that the market will continue to expand rapidly, reaching $4.7 billion by 2020.
Food ingredient innovation has advanced the gluten-free market into the convenience food sector, with products such as ready to eat gluten-free pecan tarts, for instance. Tasty gluten-free packaged foods were hard to find in years past, but these innovations have helped them become much more desirable to consumers. 
“Gluten-free options were scarce at one time,” said Ewa Hudson, head of Health and Wellness at Euromonitor, “but convenience is now growing in free from and so opportunities abound.” 

Dow provides gluten-free solutions
Dow Food Solutions has developed a gluten replacement solution that looks, feels and acts like gluten to protect the bubble like structure in bread and cakes. This allows food manufacturers to create gluten-free foods that meet the dietary needs of celiac consumers without comprising texture or taste. The plant-based WELLENCE™ Gluten Free stabiliser mimics the water-absorbing and structural abilities of gluten to ensure bakery products reach the size and volume required by consumers and manufacturers. It also offers consistent dough handling to prevent overexpansion and collapse during baking, while controlling crumb structure and providing lasting freshness. Dow has tested products with Wellence to ensure that gluten levels present in the end product fall below regulatory thresholds to protect consumer dietary restrictions.
Tests have shown that gluten-free products made using Wellence can achieve twice the height of products made using xanthan gum. It provides increased moistness in baked products to extend both shelf life and taste quality. The resulting, enhanced volume and improved crumb structure with smaller air cells creates a less chewy bite that is closer to that of conventional, gluten enabled baked goods.

Enhance structure during mixing and baking
Wellence can be combined with Dow METHOCEL ™ Bind to form a glutinous texture during the mixing and baking stages. This ingredient combination provides gluten-like abilities such as increased height at the proofing stage and a heat-setting gel during baking to ensure structural integrity. The speed of mixing is important to enable the proper amount of air entrapment for increased height. Mixing too fast will create too many air cells and lead to uncontrolled oven spring with the potential for large air cells forming as smaller cells burst and coalesce. Whereas too slow would not develop enough air cells for the desired volume.
The heat-setting gel will be formed during the baking process between 70 and 75 degrees Celsius and creates the necessary structure to hold on to the volume that is built during the baking process. At the end of the baking process and upon cooling, the starch gel structure prevents the bread from collapsing.
Wellence and Methocel provide cold viscosity and bind the moisture during the heating process and slow down moisture losses to reduce the drying out of products during shelf life. The desired good crumb structure, moisture control and volume result in products that enable those with gluten intolerance to enjoy natural tasting bread and cakes in their daily diet.

Cost savings during production
Wellence gluten-free 47129 requires much less in terms of cost and manufacturing changes compared to other products – such as rice flour, tapioca starch, bamboo fibre, egg white powder, canola oil, potato starch, psyillium husk, maize flour, sugar, yeast cake, salt, corn syrup, albumen powder – used in gluten-free formulations.
Novel solutions are required to keep up with today’s food marketplace demands for personalised nutrition to meet the dietary restrictions of consumers with food intolerance. Dow Food’s stabiliser portfolio provides easy to use and cost effective ingredient solutions for food applications.
The gluten-free market remains small at present but with the rapid rate of growth in consumer demand for better ‘free from’ convenience bakery products, the future for this sector looks promising.

Be sure to catch the latest on this topic from Dow Food Solutions at the Fi Europe 2017 Conference during the Master Class: Category Innovation: Dairy, Bakery & Beverages on Wednesday, 29th November 14:30–17:15.
Roland Adden, R&D and TS Leader – Food and Nutrition at Dow will discuss ‘Developing bakery products to meet the gluten-free trend’.