Thursday, December 13, 2012

General Mills closing gluten-free online store

General Mills is shutting down Gluten Freely, it's online gluten-free store and moving its gluten-free recipes onto two general interest websites run by the company.

The store  is closing Jan. 8 because a wider selection of gluten-free items in supermarkets and groceries has reduced the need for an online gluten-free store, the company said in an email. Gluten-Freely sold both General Mills gluten-free brands, like Betty Crocker and Chex, and those produced by other companies.

General Mills said the closing of the store and website is not an indication that the company is losing its commitment to the gluten-free community "We remain committed to the gluten-free community by continuing to offer more than 300 gluten-free products," the email sent to Gluten Freely subscribers said. Future innovations are also on tap, according to the company.

Gluten-free recipes will be available at in the recipe section under health and diet and will offer "healthified" gluten-free recipes, resources and articles under healthy living gluten free.

Consumers will no longer receive emails from Gluten Freely. While you can sign up for information from BettyCrocker and LiveBetterAmerica, it will not always be specific to the gluten-free diet. The Gluten Freely Facebook page, which has more than 100,000 likes, will continue to operate.

Consumers started reacting to news of the closing on the Facebook page shortly after the email was sent. "I understand for most people it is easier to get gluten-free items locally, but for me it is difficult," Nikki Evans wrote. I have to travel over 90 minutes to a Whole Foods store."

Catherine Barrett wrote, "So sad you are closing. I can't find most of the things I like locally and the prices are outrageous in the stores. I will miss being able to order what I want and need."

Others asked whether the move would mean brands they like would no longer be available. The store closing is not connected to the discontinuation of any products sold through it.

Products sold through the store will be up to 50 percent off until the closing. They will continue to come with a guarantee that they are 30 days from their  expiration date. The consumer services department will be staffed through January to handle questions about final orders. Once the store closes remaining inventory will be donated to food shelters, include some impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Amy Ratner

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