At present up to two per cent of European consumers are suffering from coeliac disease that demands a strict gluten-free diet.
Gluten is part of all common cereals like wheat, spelt, rye and barley and therefore contained e.g. in bakery products, pasta and beer.
Abstaining from gluten is very hard for the patients, and they have to revert to special gluten-free diet compositions.
However, the consumer acceptance of respective gluten-free products is still limited by their insufficient taste, texture and mouth-feeling. Gluten-free bakery products are particularly deficient in cohesive and fluffy crumb and they possess a dry texture as well as a reduced shelf life. Moreover, materials that are used to replace gluten-containing cereals, like pseudo-cereals and sorghum often contain bitter components that impact the taste of these products. Low contents of dietary fibres in respective recipes reduce the nutritional value. Gluten free pasta, where the cohesive network is formed by partly pre-cooked starch, have often a rough mouth-feeling, high cooking losses and missing firm textures.
Healthy family members and friends will not eat gluten-free products, what makes dining together difficult. In addition, such dietetic products are only available in health food stores or by mail ordering which complicates their supply. Due to these reasons only a small part of the persons with coeliac disease are using special gluten-free food products.
The market for special gluten-free products is predominately served by SMEs and showed considerable growth in the last years. High quality, tasty products might be accepted by a broader range of consumer groups including healthy consumers and will make the diet and life of coeliac disease patients easier.
Moreover, the development of innovative premium products will significantly strengthen the market position of SME and increase their competitiveness. Multilateral cooperation between involved companies and research institutes will provide required research and development resources as well as scientific knowledge.