The sweet taste of success has led Origin Bakery in Victoria to open a second gluten-free location to serve the West Shore's growing population.
Customers have asked for a second outlet since the day Origin opened at 1525 Pandora Ave. in March 2010, said Tara Black, who owns the business with Marion Neuhauser.
"It was starting to get to a point where our staff was overworked because of the demand for the product," Black said Wednesday.
Origin's new bakery opened last week at 1101790 Island Highway in Col-wood. The outlet is open Tuesday to Saturday from 7: 30 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m.
As Black and Neuhauser are establishing their second bakery, the option for further expansion remains open, but nothing is planned to date, Black said.
They launched Origin when it seemed that more people were being diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease, she said.
When someone has celiac disease, the small intestine that absorbs nutrients from food can be damaged by gluten, found in a protein in wheat, rye, triticale and barley, the Canadian Celiac Association states. An estimated one in 133 people in Canada are affected by celiac disease, the association's website said.
Origin is among a growing number of outlets offering food without gluten. What sets Origin apart, however, is that it is totally gluten-free, which prevents potential cross-contamination - a major issue for some customers.
One of Origin's most popular items is vega bread, made without any dairy, eggs, soy or corn. Like other loaves, it costs $7.50. A warm loaf purchased Wednesday morning had a mild, pleasant flavour, light texture and crispy crust.
So far, customers at the Island Highway location are snapping up carrot cupcakes, Black said. Priced at $3.25 each, they are moist and tasty and topped with a white chocolate, cream-cheese frosting.
Bakery offerings include breads, muffins, bars, cookies, cakes, granola and sandwiches and quiches. Fresh products for each of the stores is posted daily on the company's website, originbakery.com.
Origin's focus is on retail, with 15 per cent of sales going to wholesale customers, Black said. Wholesale products are pre-packaged before leaving the store to avoid contamination. "It is as safe as we can make it," she said.
Despite higher costs for many of ingredients, Origin strives to keep prices affordable, Black said.
The local website, theceliacscene.com, lists restaurants and retailers that are gluten-free. These include SantÃ© CafÃ©, which opened last year in Quadra Street Village.
The best-selling book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health, by American cardiologist Dr. William Davis, maintains that cutting modern wheat from diets can lead to weight loss and reduce digestive problems.
Packaged Facts, a U.S. market research company, said the market for gluten-free food and beverages has grown faster than expected. It will reach $4.2 billion this year in the U.S. and is predicted to top $6.6 billion by 2017.
The most popular category within that market is snack and granola bars, representing 15 per cent of mass-market sales, the company said.
An August 2012 survey by Packaged Foods said 18 per cent of adults are buying gluten-free food, up from 15 per cent in October 2010. "The conviction that gluten-free products are generally healthier is the top motivation for consumers of these products," Packaged Foods said.
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