Food Specialties | Food Specialties | Insights | Beverage

July 02nd, 2019

What the gluten-free trend means for brewers

Gluten-free products are claiming more supermarket space than ever. Forward-thinking brewers are crafting gluten-free varieties to reach even more consumers.

DSM Solution

DSM’s Brewers Clarex® enables gluten-reduced and gluten-free beers made from gluten-containing raw materials such as wheat, barley, and rye.

Gluten-free is one of the strongest growth drivers in the food industry today. According to Mintel data, the gluten-free claim was the fourth most-popular claim for product launches in 2017, accounting for some 11.9% of all new products that year. 

That puts this claim ahead of vegetarian and even Kosher claims in the same year. In the brewing industry, however, gluten-free claims accounted for just 1.3% of new products last year—suggesting brewers have an opportunity to innovate and leverage this growing trend.


Why is gluten-free on the rise?

Consumer health and wellness trends have sparked interest in healthier eating habits across the board. This has led to an increased awareness for digestive health, as well as foods that are easier to digest or which support a healthier gut.

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Gluten is a protein found in cereals such as wheat, rye, and barley. For the estimated 1% of the population diagnosed with celiac disease, consuming foods that contain gluten can cause significant intestinal damage as well as other health risks. Today, however, the gluten-free diet is being taken up voluntarily by a greater percentage of people who experience discomfort when they consume gluten-containing foods, or who perceive gluten-free diets to be healthier.

Food and beverage producers are clearly responding to this consumer trend, as are retailers. While gluten-free products were once only found in specialty health shops, it is now common to find gluten-free sections in many well-stocked supermarkets. 

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Consumer choice is key

It’s no secret that the brewing industry is undergoing a revolution. The emergence of craft beer has raised expectations for unique, differentiated products and premium quality beers. Consumers have responded positively, driving growth for the industry.

Notably, it has been craft brewers who have responded to the gluten-free trend by offering gluten-free varieties. The reason for adding a gluten-free variety to an already-successful brand is simple: Offering more consumer choice in line with the brand values.

Food Fact

Craft brewing consumption is on the rise, and 80% of craft beer drinkers say they intend to continue trying out new and different styles of beer. Read more>

Joana Carneiro | Business Director Beverages

The vision of craft beer is to offer something unique for every individual, and gluten-free is part of that.

How to make gluten-free beer (without compromising taste) 

There are different ways to make a gluten-free or gluten-reduced beer. One approach is to make beer using cereals such as millet, rice, sorghum, buckwheat, or corn that contain no gluten. 

A second approach to making gluten-free beer is to use an enzyme, such as DSM’s Brewers Clarex®, to breakdown the gluten chains in beers made with wheat, rye, or barley. The enzyme has no impact on the beer taste, foam, or quality. This gives brewers flexibility to create great-tasting beers that happen to be gluten-free.