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Australia Develops ‘Gluten-free’ Barley

FILE - The Guildhall Bar’s present owner, Fernando Coimbra, a South African of Portuguese descent, pours another pint of beer in the historical venue. Photo by Darren Taylor

Australian scientists say they’ve developed the world’s first World Health Organization-approved “gluten-free” barley, a common ingredient in beer.

Developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, (CSIRO) Kebari barley has already attracted the attention of brewers. One German brewery, Radeberger, has already bought 70 tons.

"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, according to the Reuters news agency.

Kebari is not genetically modified, but a result of a “...program of breeding out the gluten by cross-breeding low gluten barley varieties, said the CSIRO,” according to Reuters.

It has been patented by CSIRO.

Reuters reported that “gluten free is one of the world's fastest growing consumer trends with the market expected to grow more than 10 percent a year until 2020 to be worth $7.59 billion, a 2015 report by MarketsandMarket.”

"A true gluten-free barley variety is a true game changer; there is going to be a massive market for the product," Phin Ziebell, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank, told Reuters.

While Kebari is not 100 percent gluten-free, “CSIRO said it had 10,000 times less gluten than traditional strains, or about 5 parts of gluten per million, well below the World Health Organization's (WHO) 20 parts per million for classification as a gluten-free grain,” according to Reuters.

The news agency also reported that gluten-free beer has been thwarted by “differing global standards of what is considered gluten-free.”

The U.S. is expected to soon tighten regulations for brewers calling their beer gluten-free.

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