Gluten-free foods surge 63 per cent in last two years
The gluten-free market in the US is estimated to reach sales of $8.8 billion in 2014 — an increase of 63 per cent between 2012 and 2014 — according to market research organisation Mintel.
Mintel said that greater awareness of a gluten-free diet as a result of increasing diagnoses of coeliac disease and other gluten sensitivities, and the diet’s perceived health benefits, had contributed to the explosion of gluten-free choices on grocery shelves.
“Overall, the gluten-free food market continues to thrive off those who must maintain a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, as well as those who perceive gluten-free foods to be healthier or more natural,” said Amanda Topper, Food analyst at Mintel.
“The category will continue to grow in the near term, especially as FDA regulations make it easier for consumers to purchase gluten-free products and trust the manufacturers who make them,” Ms Topper said. “Despite strong growth over the last few years, there is still innovation opportunity, especially in food segments that typically contain gluten,” she said.
Gluten-free snacks segment saw largest growth
All gluten-free food segments increased in the past year, though the snacks segment increased the most. Gluten-free snacks increased 163 per cent from 2012-14, reaching sales of $2.8 billion. Sales increases were mainly due to a 456 per cent increase in potato chip sales.
Meanwhile, the meats/meat alternatives segment was the second-largest gluten-free food segment in terms of sales, reaching $1.6 billion in 2014, a 14 per cent increase from 2012-14.
The bread products and cereals segment saw gains of 43 per cent during the same time period, and is set to reach $1.3 billion this year. Mintel said bread and cereal were “ripe for gluten-free growth” with only 1 per cent of the overall segment termed gluten-free.
“Gluten-free products appeal to a wide audience; 41 per cent of US adults agree they are beneficial for everyone, not only those with a gluten allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity,” Ms Topper said. “In response, food manufacturers offering either gluten-free alternatives or existing products with a gluten-free label have increased dramatically over the last several years,” she said.
Not everyone convince gluten-free is good for health
But it seems not everyone is convinced of gluten free’s health attributes. Mintel found that while 33 per cent of survey respondents in 2013 agreed that “gluten-free diets are a fad,” the number increased to 44 per cent of Americans in 2014.
However, that hasn’t slowed gluten free’s popularity—22 per cent of Americans currently follow a gluten-free diet, compared to 15 per cent in 2013.