American Key Food Products (AKFP) said that the company’s newly developed King Lion Premium Cassava Flour is made from the root of the cassava plant, which is commonly used to make tapioca starches, granules and pearls.
The supplier maintains that, unlike other formulations for gluten-free bakery that are composed of multiple flours and starches, its cassava flour can simply replace wheat flour and makes ingredient inventory and label declaration less time consuming.
Carter Foss, technical sales director at AKFP, said that the product, a year in development, has demonstrated in internal tests that it can provide the taste, texture, crumb and baking characteristics equivalent to wheat flour.
He said that the product has also exhibited good moisture retention properties, reducing the amount of flour needed by as much as 25 per cent over wheat flour: “As the starch content in the cassava product is greater than wheat flour it absorbs more of the available water.”
Foss told BakeryandSnacks.com that AKFP had trialled the flour successfully in products such as cookies, white butter and a high ratio chocolate cake: “We have even made pancakes using our flour.”
He said there is ongoing evaluation of the flour with other products including pizza crust, pasta and snacks, with the company currently working with a pasta manufacturer and snacks company in product formulation trials using the cassava flour.
According to Foss, a bread version will be available soon and initial trails have been yielding good results.
“We are performing tests to gain a better understanding for ourselves so that we can provide our customers with the knowledge base to help them be successful in their development. We have achieved, in our opinion, the best gluten free artisan bread (versus those in the current market),” he added.
Foss confirmed that commercial production of the flour is to begin in the coming months and that modifications to existing mixing equipment will not be required when incorporating it into a bakery or snack manufacturer’s production process.
The company said that the flour will be available to manufacturers on a global scale.
The global market for gluten-free food and drink products has grown exponentially in the past five years with a raft of new products hitting the market, and clear leaders are starting to emerge in what was once a niche.
Since it was valued at a modest $580m in 2004, the market has grown at an average annual rate of 29 per cent and last year was worth $1.56bn, according to Packaged Facts, which estimates the market in 2012 could be worth as much as $2.6bn.
On the consumer side, demand has been fuelled by greater diagnosis of coeliac disease, sufferers of which must avoid gluten in everything they eat. The disease currently affects an average of one in 300 people in Europe, one in 200 in Germany and one in 100 in the UK.
There is also a growing belief among sufferers of a wide variety of illnesses (including coeliac disease, autism, attention deficit disorder, irritated bowel syndrome and multiple sclerosis) that gluten-free will provide relief - although science and doctors' advice may not back this up.
Manufacturers have been quick to seize upon the opportunity, bringing a raft of gluten-free products to market ranging from cereals and pasta to cookies, crackers, snacks and bread.