Celiac.com 09/27/2013 - Will Korea become the next player in gluten-free food production?
This May, the Korean Society for Food Engineering organized a the country's first gluten-free product symposium.
Two months earlier, in March, major food service company OURHOME launched three varieties of gluten-free pasta. Another company, ORGA Whole Foods, an eco-friendly groceries business, currently sells six imported, gluten-free products.
Gluten-free products are increasingly found in department stores, and Shinsegae Department Store’s bakery might be jumping into the gluten-free baked goods market in the near future.
Though the bakery does not produce or carry gluten-free goods at the moment, Shinsegae Department Store bakery buyer Cho Chang-hee said, “With increasingly info-savvy, health- and diet-conscious consumers giving gradual rise to the need for gluten-free products we have future plans to develop such goods.”
All of this signals the potential for the growth of the market for gluten-free and wheat-free, food.
The Korean Society of Natural Medicine president Seo Jae-gul also pinpoints a Western diet as one of the reasons behind the gluten-free diet.
Seo, chief doctor at Pomona Clinic, feels that western diet, and the consumption of gluten, in particular, act as contributing factors to the increase in autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes and lupus. Seo encourages a gluten-free diet any of his patients diagnosed with such illnesses.
OURHOME product manager Jung Soon-ah says that interest in gluten-free foods has grown from nearly zero, and is rapidly rising. Until recently, in order to obtain gluten-free foods, Korean consumers had to purchase them from overseas sites and other specialty shops.
Jung predicts that current “well-being” and “healing” trends will further spur the growth of Korea’s gluten-free market.