Through my travels throughout the US over the past 3 1/2 years I have gained much insight in to this ever developing marketplace called the Gluten Free Industry. I’ve had the opportunity to develop relationships with many of the manufacturers, distributors and brokers who initially entered the market prior to the Gluten Free Craze. No….I’m not calling those individuals maintaining a Gluten Free Lifestyle a part of the “craze” but more so those new manufacturers that have brought products to market over the past year and a half.
There are two groups which these new manufacturers actually fit in to this market. Those who have a personal interest since they themselves or a family member or friend has been effected with Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance/Sensitivity or other Allergies or Diseases. This type of manufacturer is truly setting out to provide a quality product and sharing these items with those in the Gluten Free Community. However, many of these products which generally are better tasting than preexisting products may come at a higher pricing point, simply because they do not have the ability to buy the ingredients in bulk. This will drive up the price of these products in stores, not to mention these items may not be easily accessible. Well not for Strictly Gluten Free as we continue to travel the country to find these new up & coming Gluten Free brands and bring them to our stores first.
The second group which a new manufacturer will fall in to is the “Nouveau Rich” or “Wall Streeter” as this group is only seeking the financial benefits of “possibly” offering Gluten Free products. I can’t tell you how many times through my travels I have heard that…..”oh our products are GF because all our ingredients are naturally GF” or ” we are using another companies products to make ours and theirs are certified GF so we are too”. This is yet another way Strictly Gluten Free will always and continue to separate ourselves from those big boxes who just look for the magic word “gluten free” on packaging which has become a marketing ploy.
During these encounters with such manufacturers it is always fun to kind of put them in their place on determining the validity of their Gluten Free claim. While we set out to educate even these manufacturers its just a matter if they will tend to listen and actually do the right thing by the GF consumer…..but don’t hold your breathe as its a pure numbers game and they are looking for someone to show them the MONEY. The whole issue with such new manufacturers products is that they clearly do not understand the CROSS CONTAMINATION that occurs in many ways.
Unlike Big Box stores who solely look for that magic word on the packaging to generate sales for the ever emerging GF market and who select products by those manufacturers who are paying for slotting fees, who can mass produce and who can do it on consignment. At Strictly Gluten Free we have strict guidelines and follow our core values in selecting a prospective new product to carry in our stores. When you shop our store and even online you can feel confident that each product has been hand selected and over 95% of the products carried have been personally sampled to ensure quality. With the most reassuring point being that we select only those products where the manufacturer has either tested their products to be Gluten Free in one of three ways:
- Self Tested – usually new start-up companies will use this method as it is the most affordable way to ensure the products are guaranteed to be Gluten Free
- Third Party Lab Tested – Usually you will see mid-sized manufacturers and large companies using this as a way to independently test their products. Keep in mind as some of the smaller start-ups grow they will look to make this investment
- Utilize a GF Certifying Body – This is simply the use of a Gluten Free Not-For-Profit Organization’s trademarked logo which is recognized in the industry….here is a secret shhhh….they too use a third party lab to test the products so you just pay for the logo recognition
With the emerging GF industry there are many precautions which you should still take as there are many new manufacturers that not only claim to have developed a GF product by simply saying its ingredients are naturally GF. We will continue to elect to properly educate all our customers so they can make educated purchasing decisions that will best be suited for them and their families.
As always we thank you for your support in our efforts……..