Demand is growing for better-tasting gluten-free options, with more than 70% of gluten-free shoppers claiming it is hard to find good-tasting gluten-free foods. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), 18 million Americans have gluten sensitivity.

The Original Cakerie saw the need for a new gluten-free product line and developed the Inspired by Happiness baked goods and desserts line. The Inspired by Happiness line, certified gluten-free by NFCA’s Gluten-Free Certification Program, is made using only natural flavors and colors and has no artificial trans-fat.

Products available now for foodservice operations include individually wrapped Heavenly Chocolate Brownie and Honeylicious Ancient Grain Chewy Nut & Seed Bar. Products available for grocery retail include Dreamin’ of Strawberries White Chocolate Shortcake and Dreamin’ of Chocolate Dark and White Chocolate Layer Cake. These family-size three-layer cakes, only available in the US, are rapidly gaining distribution and are currently in select chains and supermarkets such as Target, Hannaford, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, QFC and Food4Less. Products planned for the near future include two-layer cakes for foodservice operators.

“With gluten-free needs increasing and the challenges of creating these items from scratch, we saw a real opportunity to help meet that demand,” says Doris Bitz, vice president of retail sales & marketing for The Original Cakerie.

Numerous snack food manufacturers are rolling out gluten-free snacks. Wild Garden "Snack Pack To Go!" has taken healthy snacking to a new level by offering three gluoten-free chip selections. They have been paired with Wild Garden Hummus to Go in Traditional and Roasted Garlic flavor in the "Snack Pack to Go" boxes, a new gluten-free line with CrunchMaster Multi Seed Crackers, The Daily Crave Veggie Chips and Wild Garden Quinoa Chips.

The rise in popularity of gluten-free snacks is pushing demand for specialty grains such as quinoa and chia seeds. Ground chia seeds, for example, can be used as a gum replacement (when mixed with water) for baking gluten-free products.

The rediscovery of ancient foods like quinoa has now opened the door for other forgotten plants to go global. Chia seeds are among the latest such examples, having been used by the ancient Aztecs. According to Mintel, the use of chia seeds as an ingredient has continued to grow, with a tenfold increase in ingredient penetration globally between 2009 and 2014. North America saw the majority of chia seed food and drink launches in 2013, with 47% of launches in the US and 12% in Canada, compared to 18% in the Asia Pacific region and 11% in Europe.  

Chia seeds, which look to be the next big superfood, are being primarily used in food products, but recent years have seen an increase of chia seeds in beverages as well. In 2013, 12% of products launched with chia seeds were in the beverage category, up from zero in 2009.

“Although chia, which is a complete protein, has been rumored to reduce food cravings, lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss, studies have been unsuccessful at validating these claims,” says Stephanie Pauk, global food science analyst at Mintel. “That said, manufacturers should keep claims for chia products focused on its nutritional value rather than unproven health claims. Since 65% of US consumers are trying to include plenty of fiber into their diet, manufacturers could use chia’s high fiber content to help set it apart in beverages, as less than 1% of all beverages launched in 2013 used a high fiber claim.”