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.