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    Can the Gluten-free Market Continue to Skyrocket?


    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac.com 02/27/2013 - Although about 1% of the US population, most of whom are undiagnosed, likely have celiac disease, people who have been officially diagnosed with celiac disease make up less than 0.1% of the population.


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    Photo: CC--JurvetsonHowever, 6-7% of the population have a wheat/gluten intolerance (confirmed or not) and buy gluten-free products, while a whopping 18% of shoppers surveyed said they buy gluten-free, for whatever reason, according to Packaged Facts.

    These higher percentages are part of what is driving the astronomical growth of the market for gluten-free products.

    In fact, according to the latest survey information by Packaged facts, the market for gluten-free products is growing even faster than anticipated, and is set to reach $6.5 billion in 2017. The question of when this growth will level out, and how strong the market will remain for gluten-free products once that happens remain to be answered.

    Answers to these questions will depend at least in part on the ability of product manufacturers to associate gluten-free products with healthier lifestyles and healthier eating. Meanwhile, manufacturers of gluten-free products are working hard to broaden the appeal of their products, in an effort to expand the gluten-free market even further.

    Until just a few years ago, most gluten-free products were sold by health food retailers, and even as gluten-free products expanded into conventional retailers, they tended to appear in the natural foods sections of those retailers. In fact, says Packaged Facts, mainstream retailers now account for about 79% of gluten-free sales, while the compound annual growth rate for gluten free products in the US retail market 2008-2012 is approaching 28%.

    According to SPINS, sales of gluten-free products were up 19% in the year to September 2012 in natural and conventional channels combined, while Mintel data shows that launches of new gluten-free products rose from 600 in 2007 to more than 1,600 in 2011.

    Meanwhile, Packaged Facts estimates that North America’s share of global gluten-free new product introductions has grown significantly in the past five years, and now stands at over 60%, ahead of Europe, which accounted for about one quarter of introductions. Packaged Facts' August 2012 survey of consumers who buy gluten-free products show that 35% feel that gluten-free products are "generally healthier," 27% bought gluten-free products to "manage weight," 21% said that gluten-free products are "generally low-carb," 15% bought for a member of the household with gluten or wheat sensitivity, while just 7% said they bought gluten-free products for a household member has celiac disease.

    According to Packaged Facts, the conviction that gluten-free is healthier is the top motivation for purchase. Why do consumers think gluten-free is healthier? In some respects, this should not come as a great surprise, given that many gluten-free products also happen to be all-natural, organic, and free from GMOs, artificial preservatives and other things many consumers are trying to avoid, says Packaged Facts.

    In fact, a number of food manufacturers work hard to create foods that can be marketed as healthy, with such tags as these from Ian's products: No Artificial Flavors, Colors, or Preservatives... EVER! No Hydrogenated Oil. No Trans Fats. No Refined Sugars. No Antibiotics. No Hormones. No Bleached Flours. No Tripolyphosphates.

    Jayne Minigell, director of marketing at Elevation Brands, which owns Ian’s, says that this approach is helping to create consistent double-digit growth, driving revenues to more than $30 million annually.

    At Udi’s, America's #1 gluten free bread and baked goods company wants people with celiac disease to feel like they are eating regular food, and to make everyone else feel like eating gluten-free foods is normal, according to marketing manager Regan Han.

    Do you eat gluten-free foods as part of a gluten-free diet? Do you regard gluten-free products as healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts? Do you think this growth is a good thing? Will it last?

    Sources:

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    I have to eat gluten free (thanks, celiac disease) and love the growth of gluten-free products. This doesn't even address the quality of products being so much higher than it used to be. However, I know the other shoe is going to drop sooner or later and I will be totally bummed when it does. Scrounging health food stores for awful breads that are only palatable toasted was the worst. I do not look forward to that day. In fact, I may just start hoarding gluten-free Betty Crocker Baking and Bisquick mixes now...

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    Guest ACurtis

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    I don't believe that the gluten-free market is going to be able to keep asking the high prices they are currently asking. My family is gluten intolerant, and we eat gluten-free. However, eating gluten-free, whether we buy dessert already made (cookies), or we buy gluten-free dessert mixes to make, or we buy all of the ingredients (flours, etc.) to make breads and desserts at home, completely and totally gluten-free -- it doesn't make a difference WHICH way we buy the product(s) because in the end, we still end up paying A LOT OF MONEY for them.

     

    It is tapping us financially. Combine that with other food intolerances and allergies, and we're pretty much forced to pay a large percentage of our paycheck for allergen-free food. We can't keep paying the prices they want, and if they continue asking for higher and higher prices, then we'll be forced to completely and totally stop buying/eating their products. And I'm not sure what we'll do when we're forced to do that.

     

    Another thing; many gluten-free companies have taken to using soy flour and other soy products to make their gluten-free products. We all know why they do it -- it cuts their cost to make the product, because soy is cheap. However, for those of us who cannot eat soy because we are allergic/intolerant to it -- it takes a whole bunch more gluten-free products off the market for us to buy.

     

    And let's not forget the fact that those with celiac disease also usually have lactose intolerance, and many people with gluten intolerance have casein or whey allergies. Why, then, do so many gluten-free producers and restaurants put so much cow's milk products (I'm thinking specifically of cheese here) in their gluten-free recipes? Technically, those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can't eat those products with cow's milk in them. I know we can't.

     

    And many gluten-free products are made with highly refined "white" gluten-free flours instead of nutrient-dense flours that impart more nutrients for the body and are healthier. Again, this is done because the highly refined "white" flours are cheaper to use.

     

    While there are many more products on the market and the taste has improved, there is still a ways to go in having good quality, available, and affordable gluten-free foods available.

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    I am undiagnosed gluten-intolerant and so keep to a gluten-free diet to stay symptom-free. Here in Spain there are not so many gluten-free products available but the selection is certainly much bigger than it was a couple of years ago. Of course, I hope that this will continue, and then maybe one day I will be able to buy decent bread, biscuits and pizza and stop making them myself. I think that the gluten-free market will level out eventually though I don't think it will go backwards, hopefully a spinoff will be healthier food available for everyone as people become more aware of what they eat and with GMO's, hormones and chemicals blacklisted.

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    There are many reports in such journals connecting brain and neurological ailments with gluten, so it is not much of a stretch, on that basis alone, to suspect that stuttering may be a symptom of the gluten syndrome. Rodney Ford has even characterized celiac disease as an ailment that may begin through gluten-induced neurological damage (13) and Marios Hadjivassiliou and his group of neurologists and neurological investigators have devoted considerable time and effort to research that reveals gluten as an important factor in a majority of neurological diseases of unknown origin (14) which, as I have pointed out previously, includes most neurological ailments.
    My own experience with stuttering is limited. I stuttered as a child when I became nervous, upset, or self-conscious. Although I have been gluten free for many years, I haven’t noticed any impact on my inclination to stutter when upset. I don’t know if they are related, but I have also had challenges with speaking when distressed and I have noticed a substantial improvement in this area since removing gluten from my diet. Nonetheless, I have long wondered if there is a connection between gluten consumption and stuttering. Having done the research for this article, I would now encourage stutterers to try a gluten free diet for six months to see if it will reduce or eliminate their stutter. Meanwhile, I hope that some investigator out there will research this matter, publish her findings, and start the ball rolling toward getting some definitive answers to this question.
    Sources:
    1. Toft M, Dietrichs E. Aggravated stuttering following subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease--two cases. BMC Neurol. 2011 Apr 8;11:44.
    2. Tani T, Sakai Y. Stuttering after right cerebellar infarction: a case study. J Fluency Disord. 2010 Jun;35(2):141-5. Epub 2010 Mar 15.
    3. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    4. Jäncke L, Hänggi J, Steinmetz H. Morphological brain differences between adult stutterers and non-stutterers. BMC Neurol. 2004 Dec 10;4(1):23.
    5. Kell CA, Neumann K, von Kriegstein K, Posenenske C, von Gudenberg AW, Euler H, Giraud AL. How the brain repairs stuttering. Brain. 2009 Oct;132(Pt 10):2747-60. Epub 2009 Aug 26.
    6. Galantucci S, Tartaglia MC, Wilson SM, Henry ML, Filippi M, Agosta F, Dronkers NF, Henry RG, Ogar JM, Miller BL, Gorno-Tempini ML. White matter damage in primary progressive aphasias: a diffusion tensor tractography study. Brain. 2011 Jun 11.
    7. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    8. [No authors listed] Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Weekly clinicopathological exercises. Case 43-1988. A 52-year-old man with persistent watery diarrhea and aphasia. N Engl J Med. 1988 Oct 27;319(17):1139-48
    9. Molteni N, Bardella MT, Baldassarri AR, Bianchi PA. Celiac disease associated with epilepsy and intracranial calcifications: report of two patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Sep;83(9):992-4.
    10. http://ezinearticles.com/?Food-Allergy-and-Stuttering-Link&id=1235725 
    11. http://www.craig.copperleife.com/health/stuttering_allergies.htm 
    12. https://www.celiac.com/forums/topic/73362-any-help-is-appreciated/
    13. Ford RP. The gluten syndrome: a neurological disease. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):438-40. Epub 2009 Apr 29.
    14. Hadjivassiliou M, Gibson A, Davies-Jones GA, Lobo AJ, Stephenson TJ, Milford-Ward A. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet. 1996 Feb 10;347(8998):369-71.

    Jefferson Adams
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    Source:
    Journal of Clinical Pathologyhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jclinpath-2018-205023