• By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Gluten Intolerance a Growing Concern for Grain Industry

Consumers’ claims of gluten intolerance are growing every year according to industry figures. Up to one quarter of all consumers now claim to avoid wheat products, according to figures noted by Dr. John Williams, Managing Director of Food and Fiber at the Supply Chain Institute.Whether based on sound medical advice, or consumers deciding to go gluten-free as part of a fad diet, the trend is concerning for the grains industry.

"It continues to grow each year and it is a concern, not only to the millers and bakers, but also to an increasing number of growers," he said. "It's showing up in flat wheat prices, it's showing up negative protein grade spreads and we're also seeing a much higher price for grains like grain sorghum."

Dr. Williams states that the process of fermentation has aided humans in adapting to wheat in their diets over thousands of years, and adds that he believes that the reduction in fermentation in modern baking processes is partly responsible for the growing intolerance.

"When bakers and food manufacturers add gluten, and also a large consumption of non-fermented wheat products like pasta and noodles, then that is increasing the overall gluten content for many consumers," he said.

Because bakers are working to produce bread as quickly and as cheaply as possible, the loss of fermentation is really a factor of time and cost. But he adds that the industry is working diligently to counteract the difficulties some consumers are facing with wheat-based products in order to gain back some of the lost market share.

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