60-second interview, Beneo: Is rice still the first choice in gluten-free recipe formulation?

The lowdown on gluten-free formulation with Beneo

Rice flours and starches dominated the first generated of gluten-free goods, particularly in the bakery segment, but are they still the #1 choice in formulators’ toolkits? FoodNavigator-USA caught up with Pierre Donck, regional product manager at rice ingredients specialist Beneo Inc, to find out.

Is rice falling out of favor in gluten-free baking as formulators look for more nutritious/trendy alternatives to wheat?

If you want to make gluten-free bread, rice still gives you the best results; it also has a more neutral taste than [some gluten-free] ancient grains.

I would agree that plain rice flour isn’t seen as bringing as much added value from a consumer perspective when you look at a product label, so we’re seeing, for example, more bakers using gluten-free ancient grains in addition to rice because they are trendy.

However, if you use whole grain brown rice flour and add some rice protein, the nutritional profile is much more appealing. We also offer customers chicory root fiber so they can get more fiber into their gluten-free recipes as well.

What’s new in rice-based gluten-free formulation?

A big growth area for us is with our micronized wet-milled rice flour, which has a very fine particle size, so you get a neutral taste and a better texture with no graininess, which is perfect for gluten-free pasta, where you want strength and cohesiveness and you don’t want stickiness.

It also works really well in gluten-free pasta sheets for lasagna, where we're seeing demand from manufacturers for retail and foodservice.

Another growth area for the micronized rice flour is pizza dough - where we have several new projects on the go right now.

On a regional basis, where are you seeing the most growth in gluten-free in your business?

Western Europe is still the biggest gluten-free market, although we’re seeing slower growth there. We’re seeing the biggest growth in North America, particularly in babyfood. We’re also seeing demand for our rice-based ingredients in every gluten-free category from savory applications to extruded cereals, where rice can deliver crunchiness and crispiness. However, bakery is still probably the most important in volume terms, although the growth is now higher in other areas.

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