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Quebec company gives gluten-free a new look

Cannelle Boulangerie celebrates 10th anniversary with new products and a brand refresh

Cannelle Boulangerie, one of the first industrial bakers to produce gluten-free products, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a redesign, revamped recipes and by broadening its marketing strategies.

The official rebrand launched in mid-November. The introduction of improved product lines will continue into January.

Cannelle products are currently only available in Quebec, but plans are in the works to expand across North America, says marketing director Catherine Vachon.

Cannelle (cinnamon in English), got its start when founder Elizabeth Dupont, stricken with gluten-intolerant Celiac disease, began making bread, flours and pastries for those with the same dietary restrictions.

But in the last 10 years, gluten-free has become, as one marketer describes, “the fad of all food fads.” People with and without digestive disorders have turned to gluten-free in the belief it offers relief from a host of discomforts.

An Agriculture Canada report says about 10 million Canadians, including those with gluten-sensitivities and those of the mindset that gluten-free is a healthier choice are looking for gluten-free products.

Vachon says about 30 % of the population wants to reduce gluten in their diet, with a quarter of the country already buying some gluten-free.

“It’s not just for Celiac patients anymore,” she says.

In the U.S. the market is expected to hit $6.2 billion by 2018, though another source pegs expected sales at $2.3 billion by 2019 in the U.S., the latter number an increase of 140 per cent over 2014.

But not everyone believes gluten-free's future is all blue sky.

"Some folks I’ve talked to say that it’s running out of steam and others think it’s still got some growth potential left," says Jordan Lebel, a food-marketing professor and director at Montreal's John Molson School of Business. "Lots of people are searching for the magic bullet and too many consultants, stars, etc. are willing to get on the (gluten-free) bandwagon."

Contradictory predictions aside and fad or not, Cannelle Boulangerie has 40 products – flours, including potato, soya, rice and tapioca; specialty breads like buns for hot dogs and hamburgers, bagels, pizza dough; sliced breads, muffins, cake mixes and pastries and cakes.

The Richmond, QC-based bakery and R&D firm is always looking to improve the flavour and texture of its products, says Vachon, and company founder Dupont now works in an office kitchen tinkering with recipes.

“We don’t see a ceiling (to our growth),” says Vachon. “Gluten is our foundation, we’re gluten and GMO free, but we want to go further than that. We want to explore and exploit all products around digestive health.”

Vachon says her studies have shown about two thirds of Canadians suffer some sort of digestive distress, whether it be lactose or gluten intolerance or other ills and the company is determined to exploit that ever-growing market.

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