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SA pasta a winner as demand grows for GF foods

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A gluten-free pasta made from pulses by SA-based San Remo has scooped a national, consumer-voted Product of the Year award in a result award organisers say reflects growing demand for ‘healthy and allergy-free food’.

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Pulse Pasta, made using flour from peas, lentils, chickpeas and borlotti beans, won the pasta and rice category of the annual awards, which were presented last night in Sydney.

It is understood to be the first time a South Australian business has taken out a Product of the Year title in a food category at the awards, which were this year dominated by companies such as Coles, Metcash and Aldi.

San Remo chief marketing officer Erik de Roos told InDaily it was also significant that a gluten-free pasta had won a category open to any type of pasta and rice.

“What’s so interesting about this product being Pulse Pasta is that it’s made out of completely different ingredients to normal pasta,” he says, referring to the peas, lentils, chickpeas and borlotti beans.

“This creates a higher protein and nutritional content, so it doesn’t just tick the gluten-free box but also the plant-based option.

“It has a unique taste but a really pleasant taste.”

San Remo’s original gluten-free pasta, made with soy flour, was launched around 13 years ago and it has since increased the GF range to more than a dozen products.

With demand soaring over the past five or so years, the gluten-free items now account for 10 per cent of the company’s sales.

While most pasta is vegan, de Roos says the Pulse Pasta was introduced two years ago as a direct response to the growing demand for not just GF foods but also plant-based protein alternatives.

Product of the Year awards organisers say 10 out of 50 categories this year were won by new products “offering healthy and allergy-free alternatives to everyday food and beverage items”.

“It’s a trend that we’ve not seen much of before in the history of the awards and it signals increasing consumer demand for manufacturers to innovate in these areas,” event director Sarah Connelly says.

“These options are becoming far more mainstream and more affordable than they have ever been before.”

Entries for Product of the Year are first considered by a professional jury and then voted on by more than 14,000 Australian shoppers through a survey conducted by research firm Nielsen which evaluates things such as “relevance”, “excitement”, “likeability” and “value perception”.

According to the Product of the Year website, finalists must pay a $6000 fee for the cost of conducting the research. Category winners incur a further $18,500 fee to use the Product of the Year logo, but “typically see their sales increase by an average of 10%-15%”.

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