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Will New Guidelines Help Boost Gluten-free Baby Food Market?


Photo: CC--Melissa Doroquez

Celiac.com 05/27/2016 - Data from scientific studies meant to help clinicians recommend the best time for the introduction of gluten into an infant's diet have been unclear, and this has led to some confusion among parents as to the best policies for when to introduce gluten.

Past advice was based on observational studies, but two clinical trials published in the past two years have shown that the age at which gluten is introduced to the diet does not affect overall rates of celiac disease during childhood.

In response to those recent studies, the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) has already changed its guidance to recommend that infants be introduced to small amounts of gluten sometime between four and 12 months of age. Meanwhile, Sweden's national food agency, Livsmedelsverket, is reviewing recent scientific studies make sure its current advice regarding gluten introduction matches the best current data.

The new research suggested that "it does not matter when during the first four to 12 months food with gluten is introduced," reads a note on the Livsmedelsverket website. "The new research provides important knowledge about what affects the risk of gluten intolerance," said Ylva Sjögren Bolin, the agency's immunologist and nutritionist.

These changes could have an impact on the market for baby food, which has seen sales fall recently as more and more parents follow specialized diets for their infant children. In the last few years, more parents have turned to allergen-free foods for their children, which has created a lucrative market for the products, especially in the gluten-free category.

Exactly how lucrative? About 14% share of the global market was gluten-free in 2014, according to Euromonitor International. Major markets for gluten-free baby food include Russia, Spain and Italy.

Look for that market share to increase, as "more babies and toddlers are used to gluten-free, and mums believe that gluten-free is a better diet for their kids," noted Mintel's Yannick Troalen.

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