I probably won’t shock anyone by noting that gluten free products cost nearly three times as much as their gluten-based equivalents.
A recent Canadian study found that gluten free products on average cost 242% more.
Today I poked around my local supermarket on a mission to put these stats to the test and found that a couple of the basics actually cost five times as much.
At Woolworths, an unbranded white loaf of bread costs $1.10 compared to $5.70 for the gluten free equivalent.
And while you could bag 500g of no name pasta for a mere 60c, the cheapest gluten free pack – found in the family unfriendly size of 250g – is $1.50.
And these are just the basics. If you want specialty items from far flung suppliers, whack shipping costs on top.
Why is this so? We at GFF asked this question of some of the local manufacturers. This was their combined response:
1. A smaller customer base means lower production runs, a smaller scale of manufacturing, less automation and therefore higher margins
2. The main gluten free grains, corn and rice, are more expensive – one supplier said three times as expensive – than wheat because they are not produced in anywhere near the volumes
3. Australia also saw its smallest rice crop in history last year, further inflating prices
4. Because production runs are smaller, these ingredients are also bought in lower volumes which means less discounting
5. Gluten free products require extra ingredients such as xanthan gum and guar gum to achieve the same texture as their wheat based counterparts
6. Also, to get the taste and texture right, extra production steps are needed, making manufacturing more challenging and complicated
7. To top this off, in order to declare their product gluten free, manufacturers must adhere to strict guidelines around storage and traceability so everything must be tested and certified
8. Some retailers may also mark up gluten free products, as they would niche gourmet products, however opinions were mixed on this.
So there you have it.