The ‘free from’ crowd among consumers is growing—the avid label readers, the shoppers who peruse only the outer perimeter of the store and look for foods free from preservatives, GMOs or food free from ingredients that seem artificial. They also are looking for foods free from gluten.
In 2009 a research group at Mayo Clinic compared blood samples to determine if improved diagnoses were causing the increased number of celiacs or if more people were actually contracting the disease. The team discovered that it is five times more common than fifty years ago. While the numbers for true celiacs are increasing, the Hartman Group, a Seattle-based research firm, says at least half of consumer purchasing gluten free product don’t suffer from celiac. Regardless of the reason for purchase, Mintel projects the gluten free market will see continued growth, with sales estimates of $7 billion for 2012 and $8 billion for 2013.
Creating foods that will appeal to the free-from crowd requires a look at simple, yet highly functional ingredients. Eggs play into a free-from purchasing plan naturally. Egg ingredient functionality and nutritional content both contribute to the creation of gluten-free foods.
The typical blend of flours used in gluten-free bread, for example, contains far less protein than wheat-based breads, affecting the bread composition. Since 2010 scientists at Kansas State University have experimented with egg proteins in gluten free bread because the high-quality, complete proteins in eggs form foam that entraps air. Eggs, when used with gluten-free flours, help simulate the wheat flour functionality in bread. Early research appears to suggest optimal results are obtained through the use of 25% whole liquid egg product, on a flour basis. Other research indicates that egg ingredient usage might also help prevent staling.
In sweet applications, such as cookies, cakes or muffins, egg proteins help contribute to a lighter, more fluffy texture. Gluten-free pasta benefits not only from egg proteins, to help bind the ingredients together, but the egg yolk pigment, xanthophyll, a carotenoid with a yellow-orange tone, which helps contribute rich color to the pasta. “Free-from” foods don’t have to be devoid of taste, nutrition, form or function. Egg ingredients contribute to all of these. Visit http://www.aeb.org/food-manufacturers/functional-properties-uses for incredible application ideas.