Israeli firm Carmit Candy has identified a market gap for a gluten-free version of the increasingly popular clusters format.
The firm has developed gluten-free clusters for international private label customers after trialling the product under its own brand in Israel.
“There are not many people doing a gluten free cluster. There’s no-one,” Adrian Sagman, vice president of international sales and marketing at Carmit Candy told this site.
He said that he could only think of a small company in Europe producing a gluten-free version despite large scale, non-gluten free launches from Nestlé and Mondelēz's Cadbury.
“Clusters have become mainstream and gluten free will follow it,” said Sagman
Not only for celiacs
Global confectionery launches with a “gluten-free” positioning were up 46% in 2013 from 2012, according to Innova Database. But the category is still a niche, making up just 7% of global confectionery launches.
“It’s not just celiacs eating a gluten free diet anymore,” said Sagman. “It’s sexy – people believe it’s better for their body and trendy to cut out wheat.”
We asked if it was any better for health. “It might be,” said Sagman. “I’ve seen a lot of people feel a lot better when they cut out wheat. A lot of people have a wheat intolerance and don’t know it.”
Product for established markets
He said that greatest prospects for gluten free cluster were English-speaking markets such as the UK, US and Australia.
“We’re in it for the big boys,” said Sagman. Carmit is inviting interest from large retail chains and manufacturers looking to take on big volumes. Sagman said transport costs would not make it profitable to export to a single health store.
Carmit already has two gluten-free clusters launches planned with third-parties in two established markets later this year. It recently exhibited the product at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, US.
Sagman said the company’s clusters were versatile, making it easy for Carmit to add inclusions such as caramel, nuts and raisins, depending on customer requests.
But any retailer or manufacturer introducing gluten free clusters should be aware of strong competition in the niche sector.
“There’s consolidation. A lot of gluten free companies have been bought by big conglomerates,” said Sagman.
General Mills snapped up LÄRABAR makers Humm Foods in 2008, while the J. M. Smucker Company acquired gluten free grain and cookie maker Enray last year.
Sagman said that the likes of Cadbury and Nestlé could not produce gluten free versions of their existing cluster ranges themselves, since their factories were not set up to accommodate gluten free production.
Carmit’s manufactures its clusters on a segregated line at its factory in Israel.