The American Muffin Co. started producing gluten-free products in 2005 and – while this is still the baker’s biggest selling line – the firm has extended its range to encompass other areas in the free-from sector where it hopes to unlock future growth.
The company is best known for its gluten-free muffins but it has expanded its offering in a bid to cash in on growth in other free-from areas, Zoeb Bhujwalla, a director at the firm, tells just-food.
“We always try to be ahead of the trend. We are agitators in the marketplace. We like to spot the trends well before the others do and we have been vindicated for that. This is why we have a wide range. We think these markets will mature, they will develop. And for a lot of people it has become a lifestyle choice,” he says.
The company manufactures regular, gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free, egg-free and sugar-free muffins, flapjacks, cakes, brownies and cookies.
“Increasingly now people are starting to ask for lactose-free products, egg-free products, various other things. We are amongst the first companies to produce egg-free products. That is definitely also a growing market we believe. But by far the biggest is the gluten-free and wheat-free,” Bhujwalla reveals. “It may take time for demand in other free-from areas to catch up. Waitrose are the first company to start selling our lactose-free products.”
Manufacturing such a broad range of free-from products does present a challenge, he concedes. “We have very strict guidelines. Yes, of course, there are issues where you have to be extremely careful producing free-from products in terms of due diligence. It adds a layer of expense and this is why free-from products are of a slightly higher price.”
However, Bhujwalla is confident the group’s quality offering in free-from areas will enable it to grow sales and remain ahead of the curve.
“Up to now people thought if it was free-from it was an almost medicinal product. It need not be that way. A lot of people now are recognising that if you put your mind to it – a bit of technology – we can produce quality products for people who choose special diets.”