United Central Bakeries (UCB) has underlined its commitment to the gluten-free market with the opening of a dedicated production area at its Bathgate headquarters, writes Ian Martin.

Costing £200,000, the 20,000sq ft “bakery within a bakery” has the capacity to produce £10 million-worth of gluten-free products a year for the market, with huge growth prospects in the UK. UCB also hopes to develop export business, according to managing director Archy Cunningham. “It’s the best thing we’ve ever done because the products are not commoditised,” he told British Baker at the official opening on March 29.

Gluten-free products, inclu-ding pitta, naan and pizza bases, already account for some 15% of UCB’s turnover of around £10m per annum. The products are already sold across Britain under Tesco’s “free from” brand and Mr Cunningham hopes to reach supply agreements with two more multiple retailers before the end of the year.

Appointed to run UCB in 1998 and leader of a management buy-out four years ago, Mr Cunningham has been confirmed as managing director with responsibility for all three of the Scottish firms acquired by Finsbury Group in November last year – namely UCB, Camp-bells Cake Company and the California Cake Company. “Archy will further strengthen the group’s senior management team as we pursue a buy-and-build strategy,” said Finsbury’s chief executive Dave Brooks.