While there were enough cookies and brownies to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth, it was savoury fare that reigned supreme at this year’s Gluten Free Expo.
Toronto’s second annual Gluten Free Expo took place this past weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The show boasted quite more than 6,000 attendees, 100 exhibitors and thousands of gluten-free products–quite the feat given only 18 months ago the expo was held inside a small auditorium in Vancouver. The Gluten-Free Expo has now been around for five years, with this being its second year in Toronto (it also takes place in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa).
Margaret Dron, event manager, said she has not only noticed a growth in the quantity of gluten-free products in the Canadian market–they’re growing in quality as well.
Rather than simply buying products that are gluten-free, consumers are looking for family-friendly products that are fine-tuned to be nutritious and universally enjoyed, whether or not a gluten-free diet is required.
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“When we first opened our doors, it was all about the sweets,” Dron said. “Now we’re seeing a lot more savoury items. It’s really about going beyond the basic ingredients and starting to incorporate new ingredients and flavours, like high fibre flours or quinoa.”
Breads and pastas were particularly prevalent in the show, with exhibitors focused on creating more flavourful and original products rather than standard loaves.
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Udi’s, for example, highlighted their tortillas among their extensive gluten-free line, while Canyon Bakehouse was promoting a new rosemary and thyme focaccia bread.
Packaged and frozen food also made a strong showing. Unexpected items like mac & cheese and bouillon cubes are making the transition to gluten-free in an effort to give consumers more variety and accessibility.
Accessibility and community is a large theme of the show. The Gluten Free Expo recently launched a mobile app to allow global consumers to benefit from the show.
“We’re hoping to grow not just in scale and location, but also in design,” Dron said. “We’re constantly looking at new ways to make things more interactive and develop free tools for the community.”