Gluten free used to be a sector that only specialised producers experimented in but now traditional pasta makers also have their sights set on colonising this niche market of profit and growth. In favour of the leading players is their greater wealth of products on offer and the effect of customer loyalty, while the mainstream brands can profit from their distribution strength and reputation. The leading name of the sector is most certainly Barilla, which made its entrance to the market at the end of 2013 after many years of research and having a simple range of white and yellow maise based products, with a small percentage of rice flour as well (spaghetti, penne rigate, fusilli and tortiglioni sold in 400g packets). The Parma-based company relies on a specialised producer and has obtained both the labelling of ‘Alimento senza Glutine. Prodotto erogabile’ (Gluten free food. Dispensable product), which was granted by the Italian Ministry for Health (for the purposes of recognising the safety of the product for diagnosed coeliacs) and the ‘Spiga Barrata’ symbol of Associazione Italiana Celiachia (Italian Association for Coeliacs).
Before Barilla entered the market in 2012, Garofalo was the first traditional pasta maker to take a chance on a gluten free line, by starting with three products sold in 500g packets which were then increased to six products the following year. “We worked for two years before the launch”, recounts Emidio Mansi, executive sales manager for Italy of Pastificio Lucio Garofalo, “experimenting with many variations before succeeding in creating a product which offered the same level of quality as our traditional range. With this quality, together with the claim that “taste is a right”, we intended to cement the position of our high-end brand within the market and at the same time communicate the idea that such a product does not have to sacrifice anything”. Currently, Garofalo’s gluten free line boasts 34 weighted distribution points and its best sellers are its bronze-drawn penne rigate followed by its spaghetti.
Rummo Lenta Lavorazione is the latest to come onto the scene and is one of the leading five producers of pasta in Italy, with a turnover in excess of 100 million euros: in September the company announced a joint-venture with Gruppo Andriani, the first producer of gluten free pasta which has a turnover in excess of 40 million Euros. The new subsidary is called Dietetic Rae and it is shared in equal measure by the two players. It will be based in Novara with production at its establishment in Castiglioni di Sozzago (also in Novara), however the production of its durum wheat pasta will all be moved to the Rummo di Benevento factory.