Gluten free bread has come a long way. Gone are the days of questionable wheat free loaves in long life packaging hiding in darkened corners of the supermarket.
Now those on gluten free diets can enjoy fresh and tasty alternatives to regular bread, although these typically contain higher levels of fat and sugar to compensate for the absence of wheat, barley and rye.
Bellshill-based businessman Ronnie Stebbings hopes to change this and has launched a company which specialises in manufacturing of gluten free products under the brand - Just: Gluten Free Bakery.
His company GDR Food Technology was developed with assistance from Business Gateway Lanarkshire.
Ronnie said: “The support from Business Gateway has been fantastic.
“While I’ve got management experience I’ve never launched a start-up company before and so I found the support from my business adviser invaluable.
“He helped me develop a robust business plan and pointed out potential pit-falls.
“I was offered particularly useful advice on capital expenditure and staffing and Business Gateway is continuing to assist me as I recruit for new staff.”
Two partners offered financial investment in the company, which enabled Ronnie to set up a custom built factory in Motherwell Food Park.
There are currently two full-time employees on site although recruitment is ongoing in preparation for the new orders rolling in.
Ronnie said: “It’s a really exciting time for the business.
“We have developed a fantastic product and are now in the process of securing orders with retailers and food service companies.
“The website has recently gone live and very soon our gluten free bread and rolls will be available for everyone to purchase online.”
Gluten is an essential ingredient in the bread making process and it is very difficult to replicate.
Salt, fats and sugars are used to give gluten free products flavour and texture similar to those of wheat bread and prolong their shelf time.
As a result there can be up to three times more fat in gluten free bread than regular bread.
Ronnie said: “People opt for gluten free diets because they are in fashion, to lose weight, have more energy or because gluten makes them feel bloated.
“For those with Coeliac Disease a gluten free diet is not a choice, they suffer from a very serious digestive disorder which means they can’t tolerate even the smallest amount of gluten.
“At Just: Gluten Free Bakery we believe that people who must avoid certain ingredients should not be forced to compromise on taste or quality of their food.
“I’ve previously worked in the gluten free industry for over 10 years.
“The trigger to start my own company was a dream to make gluten free bakery products healthier and just as good as standard wheat products.
Our breads and rolls do not contain any artificial preservatives and are lower in fat and sugar.
“But most importantly, they are free from all 14 major allergens, as is our dedicated factory.
“In the future I would like to expand our range of healthy gluten free products and make Just: Gluten Free Bakery a mainstream brand.
“We are already working on some exciting products.”
Brian Cunningham, business adviser at Business Gateway Lanarkshire, said: “We helped Ronnie by offering support with setting up the facility and assisting with the branding and applications for the relevant quality accreditations.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the business grow and will continue to work with GDR Food Technology as the venture moves forward.”
For more information on GDR Food Technology visit Just: Gluten Free
To find out how Business Gateway can help your business grow and prosper contact 0845 609 6611 or visit Business Gateway