retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Terrific little story in the Boston Globe about how the King Arthur Flour Company “almost reluctantly” ventured into the gluten-free market, a development process that took several years after requests started coming in from customers.

According to the story, “Among the new products are multipurpose flour, cake mix, pizza crust, brownies, and cookies. Mixes use a combination of flours milled from rice, tapioca, and potato. King Arthur goes to a certified gluten-free co-packer for manufacturing its gluten-free products, which are free of milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. The mixes are kosher and certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.”
KC's View:
I found this particularly interesting because there also was a story in the Baltimore Sun this week about how Camden Yards - the beautiful home of the Baltimore Orioles - has added gluten- and casein-free Asian noodle salads to its food options. (On opening day alone, the Sun writes, it was projected that fans would consume a lot of what purists would think of as traditional ballpark food...9,200 hot dogs, 4,500 pounds of french fries, 3,700 soft pretzels, 2,500 Boog's pit beef sandwiches and 1,500 hamburgers.)

But the Orioles are looking for additional options for people seeking new flavors and healthy options, or those with food allergies. (Fans also might like a better baseball team...but that’s a different department.)

The simple point here is how the nation’s food life has gotten far more complicated...but also richer, more diverse, and much more interesting. A couple of weeks ago, I noted that the Minnesota Twins would be offering Byerly’s excellent wild rice soup in their new ballpark, and I got a few emails that were a little sarcastic about such ballpark offerings. But let me tell you, if you’ve ever had some of the excellent ethnic foods at Safeco Field in Seattle, or the fish tacos at Petco Park in San Diego, and you may not want to go back to hot dogs again.

Food companies that do not take advantage of this trend - that do not invest in foods that reflect growing diversity and cultural richness - are missing an opportunity, I think.