The idea of Penford’s PenTechGF is to provide the texture, appearance and mouthfeel of wheat-based products, so that companies can provide gluten-free products as part of their mainstream portfolios, rather than as part of a specialist niche.
The gluten-free market has grown at an average annual rate of 28 percent since 2004, according to market research organization Packaged Facts, despite estimates that less than one percent of the population suffers from celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. Only 40,000 to 60,000 Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease, but the federal government estimates that there could be as many as 3m who are undiagnosed.
Director of research and development at Penford Food Ingredients Bryan Scherer told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “If you look at the market for this kind of product, even though it might seem like a niche market, there’s been double digit growth for a number of years…Most gluten-free offerings are not very good. We would not only solve a problem for celiacs but also for their families that are forced to eat the same bad food as they are.”
He explained that the PenTechGF systems could be used to replace any ingredient mix that contains gluten, or to improve current gluten-free offerings.
The product is a dry system that can be customized according to manufacturers’ specific needs, based on a proprietary blend of non-gluten-containing flours, starches and dehydrated potato.
The coating mix can be used for fried products like meat, chicken, seafood, vegetables and onion rings, providing a Japanese-crumb type coating that holds up to the frying process, Scherer said.
The company claims that its gluten-free fish batter mix adheres better than others on the market, with a good bite, and a neutral flavor that allows for customized flavorings.
For bakery, the system is mainly rice starch, potato and tapioca, with the mix of starches and flours tailored for use with specific formulations. The company said that these can produce gluten-free products with good elasticity, muffins with a more open crumb grain, volume for bread height, non-crumbly pastries, and textures that are not gummy or dry.
Penford’s president John Randall said that providing attributes associated with gluten-containing products means that food makers could offer gluten-free products as mainstream items.
He said: “A company can simply state that all their crispy, fried or baked goods are naturally and deliciously gluten-free.”
And the gluten-free trend could be set to continue: Packaged Facts has estimated that sales of gluten-free products will reach $2.6bn by 2012, up from $1.56bn in 2008 and $580m in 2004.