ONE of the trends that has grown steadily over the past five years is gluten-free foods. So much so that you can now find a gluten-free alternative for almost any food, like grains, breads, baked goods, pasta, sauces, and even beer.
In the United States, gluten-free foods represent a multibillion-dollar market, with expected growth from $ 5.6 billion to $ 8.3 billion by 2025.
Brenda Richardson graduated in Dietetics and has provided nutritional services to a vast population in America for over 30 years. She is also the author of the book Food Trends and Gluten: Know the Facts.
According to Richardson, the growth of gluten-free foods is driven by several factors, including the growing desire of the population to adopt a healthier lifestyle. She says that along with the increased diagnosis of celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities, gluten avoidance is one of the most popular food trends in the United States.
In Trinidad and Tobago, this trend is growing, says a supermarket owner from Central.
Sheliza Ali, manager of Price Club supermarket in Chaguanas, told Express Business that the supermarket recently expanded its organic and gluten-free section.
While Covid-19 has impacted many businesses over the past two years, Price Club has thrived despite tough economic conditions.
Ali said: “About 15 years ago one of our loyal customers requested gluten-free flour for his son due to illness. We then researched and bought the flour. We originally sold it on Lane One along with all other types of flour. We were then advised that to avoid cross-contamination, separate gluten-free products from other items in the store. It became the catalyst for the creation of a new section and the health and organic department of the Price Club was born.
“Over the 15-year period, the demand for healthier food products in the market has increased dramatically every year. Now, customers are looking for healthier alternatives.
Ali said, “We wanted to provide natural and organic foods and desserts to promote the health and well-being of our beloved customers, so this department was designed specifically for that. There were discussions with healthcare professionals beforehand, and we took all advice into account before hiring suppliers to purchase products. “
The Club Bio and Gluten Free Price section was officially launched last month. It went from just two lanes to a 30ft x 30ft floor space, allowing Price Club to increase its line of organic and gluten-free items at the supermarket.
Ali admits there has been an interruption in the supply of goods. This, she says, is due to delays in shipments and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the company has an agreement with its suppliers to ensure a regular supply of products to the store.
But what does it mean when a food is labeled organic or gluten free?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic products must meet USDA guidelines, which look at how food is grown and processed. Some of the areas assessed by the USDA include seed sources, crop health, water supply systems, and soil condition, to name a few. Although these guidelines differ slightly from country to country, overall organic food does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or harmful pesticides.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that any food labeled “gluten-free,” “gluten-free,” “gluten-free” or “gluten-free” must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Several countries around the world use the same criteria because it has been proven that most people with celiac disease can consume foods containing small amounts of gluten, the FDA said.
“Flour is one of the most important ingredients in making local foods. This is one of the reasons why we offer a wide range of flours in our Organic and Gluten Free section. It is also the most popular item of choice among consumers looking for healthier alternatives. These include spelled, corn, plantain, coconut, cassava, sweet potato, almond and oats, to name a few, ”Ali said.
“In our organic and gluten-free section, we also offer a wide variety of snacks such as tortilla chips, rice cakes, berries, nuts, vegan ice cream and cakes,” she added. .
In this section, customers can also select a wide range of gluten-free teas, bread, milk, sugar, oils and jellies. The price of these organic and gluten-free items is considerably higher than their counterparts. However, customers can get the same organic / gluten-free products at local farmers’ markets. Those looking to save money can buy these items directly from the farmer for much less.