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Aus­tralian sci­en­tists say they have de­vel­oped the world’s first World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion-ap­proved gluten-free bar­ley, a break­through for global beer man­u­fac­tur­ers, who have had to use al­ter­na­tives to bar­ley, such as rice and sorghum, to brew gluten-free beer.

Aus­tralia’s Com­mon­wealth Sci­en­tific and In­dus­trial Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion said it had sold 70 tons of the new Ke­bari bar­ley to Ger­many’s largest brewer, Rade­berger Group, which has pro­duced a beer that will be sold in lo­cal su­per­mar­kets.

“Gluten-free bar­ley will be highly sought af­ter, with Euro­pean brew­ers par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested,” said John O’Brien, a brewer of gluten-free beer in Mel­bourne.

Gluten-free prod­ucts are driv­ing one of the world’s fastest-grow­ing con­sumer trends, with the mar­ket ex­pected to grow more than 10% a year un­til 2020 to be worth $7.59 bil­lion (R115.5 bil­lion), a 2015 re­port by Mar­ket­sandMar­ket es­ti­mated.

Euro­pean drinkers, who are al­ready among the world’s largest con­sumers of beer per capita, had em­braced gluten-free prod­ucts more than other re­gions, brew­ers said, with sev­eral large man­u­fac­tur­ers re­leas­ing gluten-free brands.

One of the prob­lems brew­ers have faced in mak­ing gluten-free beer with­out bar­ley, or bar­ley with the gluten stripped out, is that beer drinkers of­ten com­plain that it doesn’t taste like tra­di­tion­ally brewed beer.

Pro­duc­tion of the new strain of bar­ley, which has been patented, would be strictly con­trolled within Aus­tralia, lim­it­ing farmer ac­cess to seeds to pre­vent cross-con­tam­i­na­tion, said the govern­ment-funded sci­en­tific body.

– Reuters

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