4 Common Challenges in Your Bakery Plant
By Scott Fischer, Vice President of Sales, Stellar
Gluten-free baking continues to be one of the hot industry topics this year. And the gluten-free food segment is
projected to reach $4.8 billion by 20211. So,
where does your plant fit into the gluten-free
You can manufacture gluten-free foods in a
facility that already produces gluten products,
Here’s how you can adjust your bakery plant’s processing and
distribution to combat four common gluten-free nuances:
1. Testing Different Gums and Flours
Producing high quality gluten-free products can be tricky. Gluten
creates a continuous protein network, which gives dough a soft
texture and helps it rise in the oven. Therefore, creating a gluten-free baked product with comparable volume and texture can require
some experimenting. Manufacturers have tested various substitutes
for gluten-rich wheat flour, including starchy flours. Some of these
alternative flours have been made from:
• Banana • Coconut
• Corn • Potato
• Rice • Tapioca
The starch in these flours can add bulk and body to gluten-free
breads, but additional gums and celluloses are usually needed to
give it a softer texture and smoother consistency.
A number of food technologists and manufacturers have
developed mixtures of various substitute flours as a solution that
doesn’t require adding as many additional ingredients. Of course,
these combinations vary depending on the baked good you’re
producing. Testing and finding the right gluten substitute for your
product is the key to proper consistency and a quality final product.
2. Modifying Traditional Mixing and
You shouldn’t assume that a gluten-free product will run properly
on your current manufacturing lines. The distinct characteristics of
raw gluten-free products compared to their gluten-full counterparts
likely require alternative mixing, handling and processing
Allergen-friendly ingredients can create a mixture that is much
different than traditional dough. This is especially true for gluten-free bread dough, which will process differently on your equipment.
Gluten naturally contains a high level of water hydration, so some
alternative flours will yield a thinner, more batter-like mixture that
may not divide easily.
Gluten-free breads and rolls must also be sliced at cooler
temperatures due to the texture difference. To minimize crumbling
during slicing, account for additional cooling time to reduce the
product temperature 15-20°F compared to gluten breads.
Although adjusting ingredients and formulations can help, you
may find you need to change your process altogether. Consider
consulting with an expert to determine if equipment and design
reconfiguration is the best option for your plant.
3. Shorter Shelf-Life
Using these alternative ingredients can affect a product’s
longevity and freshness. For example, the high starch content in
some substitute flours can reduce a gluten-free product’s shelf
life2. Some brands freeze their baked goods to expand the selling
window, and other companies have even developed patented
technology3 to help
extend a product’s shelf
life. Italian researchers4
also found that a water-soluble extract from
amaranth — a grain
naturally gluten-free —
could reduce spoilage of
gluten-free breads during long-term storage. A potentially shorter
shelf-life is a crucial factor that will require planning and adapting.
4. Being Flexible
Although the gluten-free food segment has experienced
tremendous growth in recent years, it’s still a developing market.
Many gluten-free products are in their infancy, and a lot is changing
to adapt to the market, including:
• Recipes and formulations
To succeed in this space, your bakery plant must be one, willing
to innovate and two, open to investigating new equipment options.
Serving a specialty customer subset requires some flexibility from
your plant, but it can pay dividends if done right.
Stellar is a fully integrated firm focused on planning, design,
pre-construction, construction, refrigeration, mechanical & utility,
building envelope, and total operations & maintenance services
worldwide. Visit the company's blog at www.stellarfoodforthought.
net or learn about its projects at www.stellar.net
IndustryINSIDER This month's
2 Eimear Gallagher (2009). Gluten-Free Food Science and Technology.