September 11, 2018

Production systems evolve to meet increasing demand for ‘free from’ food

GENERAL Mills spent five years and built a special eight-storey sorting facility to get rid of an ingredient that wasn’t in its cereal. The company also dispatched a team of engineers to retool machines to sort 450 million kg of oats a year.

“It was not easy,” said spokesman Mike Siemienas. “We knew if we wanted to take our Cheerios gluten-free, we needed to create our own system.”

The increasing demand for food “free from” certain items – including gluten, antibiotics, pesticides or genetic modification – is changing the way companies procure, process and package food. Sales of such foods are poised to grow 15 per cent, or US$1.4 billion, in the US between 2017 and 2022, according to Euromonitor data. The US is the largest global growth market for the free-from trend as consumers seek to curb certain ingredients or additives from their diets.

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