Ask the Experts…Why is Gluten-Free Bread So Expensive?

wholegrain bread with seeds on weathered wood, dark background Q Why is gluten free bread so much more expensive?

Raw Materials
‘Standard’ UK bread is made from wheat flour alone, grown in the UK, milled in massive, computer controlled mills and delivered to bakeries in 30 tonne bulk tankers with very little human intervention.

To make gluten-free bread you need to use up to 20 different ingredients, many sourced, in relatively small quantities, from outside the UK. Inevitably these are significantly more expensive (2 to 3 times) than the bulk-bought wheat flour sourced in the UK.

Ensuring that it is gluten/wheat free
Because this is gluten-free bread, all the ingredients need to be traced and checked to ensure not only that they are gluten/wheat free but that there has been no gluten/wheat contamination.

To ensure that the bread is completely free of contamination, either the manufacturer needs to invest in dedicated gluten/wheat-free factories, or they have to go through much more rigorous cleaning and testing processes than would be necessary for ‘normal’ bread.

Small Scale
Because gluten-free bread is a new product and sold in relatively small quantities it is made in much smaller and less automated factories, so there are much higher staffing levels.

The Process
We have been making bread from wheat flour for millenia so the process has been perfected and largely automised. Gluten-free bread making is far more complicated and very new. It needs constant supervision and because of the complexity and newness of the process, there is a far higher level of scrappage than in a ‘normal’ bakery.


Michelle Berriedale-Johnson has been involved with food sensitivity for nearly 30 years, ever since her baby son was diagnosed with milk intolerance. Since then she has manufactured ‘freefrom’ food, run a magazine about food sensitivity for both health professionals and patients, written a number of books on food allergy/intolerance, devised over 1,000 ‘freefrom’ recipes and started the hugely successful FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Eating Out Awards – as well as editing the FoodsMatter family of websites.

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