Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 15:14 UK

Gluten-free bakery creates jobs

Village Bakery Products
The company hopes to market its products across Europe

A Wrexham bakery says it will create 25 jobs when it launches a new line of gluten-free bread.

The Village Bakery has agreed a five-year deal with Switzerland's Hero Group, which specialises in products for special dietary needs.

Village Bakery (Nutrition) Ltd will use a 3m facility to produce 4m loaves a year at Minera.

Products will include bread made from linseed and oats, suitable for people with wheat intolerance.

The family-run firm employs 185 people at its main site, producing 750,000 loaves, rolls and pies every week.

'Phenomenal rate'

Its new unit will be able to produce 2,500 loaves every hour, which will be marketed and distributed by the Hero Group in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Joint managing director Robin Jones said: "The gluten-free business is growing at a phenomenal rate - between 2000 and 2005 it grew 130%.

"We were approached by the Hero Group last year. They are the number one brand in the UK, Scandinavia and certain parts of Europe.

"They have now focused on products catering for special dietary needs, like coeliacs who have an intolerance to wheat."

He added: "The reason the demand is rising so quickly is that there is better diagnosis by doctors and a lot of people are self-prescribing.

"People are becoming more and more aware of conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome so they are trying wheat-free diets."

The new plant will be operational from June and the company hopes to reach full capacity by August.

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