Sanitarium launches Gluten Free Weet-Bix in Australia with sorghum

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th August 2014
Sanitarium launches Gluten Free Weet-Bix in Australia with sorghum
Sanitarium launches Gluten Free Weet-Bix in Australia with sorghum

One of Australia’s topselling breakfast cereals, Weet-Bix, is now available in a gluten free variety, with the launch of Gluten Free Weet-Bix – a wholegrain cereal made with sorghum.

Todd Saunders, General Manager  at Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Australia, said Gluten Free Weet-Bix was a “significant innovation which represents Sanitarium’s ongoing commitment to offer a variety of nutritious breakfast options that meet the needs of consumers and their dietary requirements.

“Gluten Free Weet-Bix has been developed for people with Coeliac disease,” Mr Saunders said. “Also, people who have been advised by a health professional to avoid gluten or wheat can enjoy a  great-tasting wholegrain breakfast,” he said.

Over the past six months, Sanitarium has recommissioned an entire Perth-based Weet-Bix factory into a dedicated gluten free manufacturing site.

“We are committed to ensuring there is no risk of gluten contamination in the manufacturing of Gluten Free Weet-Bix, so not only have we dedicated an entire factory to its production, we also have a rigorous allergen management process in place,” Mr Saunders said.

GlutenFree Weet-Bix is certified gluten free by Coeliac Australia and New Zealand.

“Australians have relied on Weet-Bix for over 80 years to provide quality nutrition for themselves and their families and with the addition of Gluten Free Weet-Bix to our Weet-Bix range of products, we can now welcome back people to enjoy Australia’s favourite breakfast cereal,” Mr Saunders said.

Sanitarium nutritionist and Accredited Practicing Dietitian Trish Guy said that, like the original Weet-Bix, Gluten Free Weet-Bix is a “great way for consumers to start their day”.

“Gluten Free Weet-Bix is made with sorghum grains, which are naturally gluten free, and has a 96 per cent wholegrain content,” Ms Guy said. “It contains three times the antioxidants of oats, based on total polyphenol content – the natural antioxidant compounds found in plant foods. It is a good source of iron, high in folate and vitamins B1, B2 and B3 as well as being a source of dietary fibre,” she said.

“Gluten Free Weet-Bix looks and tastes very similar to Weet-Bix Original, and like Weet-Bix Original it is also low in sugar,” Ms Guy said.

Georgie Aley, Managing Director of Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) said the use of sorghum, an “ancient grain”, in Gluten Free Weet-Bix provided consumers with “a range of important nutrients” and that the grain has “a history of traditional use as a staple grain in several countries”.

“It’s great to see ongoing innovation from manufacturers to offer consumers a variety of choices,” Ms Aley said. “Grain foods are an important source of key nutrients in the diet, which is why we encourage the consumption of grain foods three to four times a day, especially wholegrains, as part of a balanced diet,” she said.

GlutenFree Weet-Bix is available in Coles supermarkets nation-wide, and will soon be appearing in Woolworths and IGA stores. It can be found in the cereal aisle or the health food aisle.

Gluten-free growth trends

The gluten free marketing trend in Australia has aided the development of new products made from gluten free grains.

In April 2014, Australian Food News reported that the ‘free-from’ foods market was booming globally and increasingly moving into the mainstream with introductions from major food manufacturers and brands. Considerable effort has gone into developing gluten free products.

Australian Food News reported in April 2014 that rice had become a culinary trend selection of many restaurant menus and was also becoming the go-to solution for consumers looking for gluten- and allergen-free choices. In April 2014, Australian Food News also reported that food manufacturer Heinz had entered the gluten-free category with the launch of a gluten-free pasta range, following on from the launch of a gluten-free pasta range from Barilla and San Remo in March 2014.

Also in March 2014, Tip Top Foodservice launched a gluten-free range of breads for use in cafes.

Australian  cereal makers adding value to traditional feed crops

The latest release of a Weet-Bix product made from sorghum is a further demonstration of Australian cereal innovation and investment in new technologies taking a low-margin feed crop and converting it into an innovative food.

The Australian government-funded scientific organisation CSIRO has invested considerable resources and scientific experimentation to add value to crops such as barley, sorghum and lupins and creating new consumer foods.  New product ranges from grain-based snack foods to breakfast cereals are appearing with growing frequency on Australian supermarket shelves.

As mass beer consumption has slowed down, the traditional growing of barley for malting has also been an impetus for innovation just as fears of a long term decline in red meat consumption has spurred research and development in creating new barley-based products to give barley-farmers a value-added return in the market.

Over the past couple of years, the  barley-based BarleyMax breakfast cereal range of  Popina Foods, although not “gluten free” , has been very successful in the market-place by targeting health-conscious consumers with its marketing as a range of different functional food products each with a set of health claims.