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Gluten-free Market Growing Beyond Celiac Disease


The gluten-free market is growing fast! Photo: CC-herval

Celiac.com 04/11/2011 - After years of being relegated to the specialty foods category, gluten-free foods have gone mainstream.  Since 2005, sales of gluten-free products have more than doubled, and the number of new gluten-free goods is expanding rapidly.

Rockville, Md.-based research firm Packaged Facts, calculates that U.S. retail sales of gluten-free products rose from just under 1 billion dollars in 2006 to $2.3-billion dollars in 2010. 

The firm's 2011 Gluten Free Foods and Beverages report projects those sales to to top $2.6 billion dollars by 2012, and to nearly double to $5.5-billion by 2015. A similar trend is under way in Canada, although precise national figures are not available.

Recently, cereal giant General Mills transformed its popular Rice Chex cereal into a gluten-free product without any change to the taste, simply by substituting molasses for barley-based sweetener. General Mills also acquired the Larabar brand of gluten free nutrition bars with an eye toward expanding that brand. As of November 2010, General Mills claims to offer 250 gluten-free products, including five varieties of Chex and numerous products under the venerable Betty Crocker and Bisquick brands.  

As vastly more people buy gluten-free foods as part of a healthier lifestyle choice, rather than just to address celiac disease or dietary intolerances, those products are no longer "regarded as a niche product that was only of interest to people who couldn’t tolerate wheat, gluten-free foods and beverages."

Rather, this newfound interest beyond the traditional gluten-free market has quickly transformed gluten-free products into what Packaged Facts calls a "mainstream sensation, embraced by consumers both out of necessity and as a personal choice toward achieving a healthier way to live."

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While many market researchers looking into the growth of the gluten free market have speculated that under-diagnosis of celiac disease is a major driver, Packaged Facts found that this may not be the case.

Packaged Facts conducted a online nationwide survey of 1,881 adults in fall 2010, including 277 consumers of gluten free products. Survey results showed that nearly half of people (46%) who buy gluten-free foods and beverages did so based on a perception that they are ‘generally healthier’. Thirty percent of gluten free consumers said they did so in an effort to manage their weight and 22 percent said they thought gluten free products were ‘generally higher quality’.

Only about ten percent of gluten free consumers said they bought gluten free products because they or a member of their household has celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten, wheat or other ingredients.

“Interestingly, 13 percent buy gluten free foods to treat other conditions that may or may not be associated with diet,” the report notes.

Packaged Facts also found that food manufacturers are blending more ancient grains, such as quinoa and amaranth into their gluten free products, whites increases nutrition, and may enhance flavor.

“Enrichment and fortification are smart marketing under just about any circumstances, but for gluten-free foods it’s a more critical issue, as GF diets are often lacking in essential nutrients,” the report said.

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Hi! My daughter is 19 was diagnosed at age 16. It took about 12-18 month s for her to fully heal from the damage and feel "normal" again. Also because of the damage done she had reactions to dairy, so you may want to try no or minimum dairy until youre fully healed. Just a suggestion. Hope you start feeling well soon!

Hi yall! New to this blog, but really glad it exists because I have lots of questions. First off, I'm Allie! I'm 17 and newly diagnosed Celiac after about 3 years of searching for answers. I initially went gluten-free on the recommendation of a friend, I felt better in about a month and then my pediatric gastroenterologist had me do the gluten challenge, and my symptoms were the worst they have ever been, and ones I barely noticed before became very present. I did the biopsy and was diagnosed, it's been about 2 weeks and my symptoms are still pretty bad, although my diet has no known sources of gluten or cross contamination. Wondering if anyone has any input on healing post gluten challenge, any tips or how long it took for you would be quite helpful! Thanks

Might want to look into a keto diet, I have UC on top of celiacs and keto is working great Yeah I have major nerve and brain issues with gluten, gluten ataxia with nerve issues and brain issues. Seems to cause my body to attack my brain and nerve system. My brain stumbles fogs, and starts looping, the confusion causes me to become really irritable, I call it going Mr Hyde. Like my mind will start looping constantly on thoughts and not move driving me literally mad, or it used to. Now days it is primary the numbness anger but the gut issues and sometimes random motor loss limit me motionless to the floor now days for the duration of the major anger effects. Used to be a lot more mental then painful gut. I did a mental trauma post on it on while back where I came out about all my mental issues with gluten.

^^^^^^ good info, tips and tricks^^^^^^^^^ yes, crumbs will make you sick. also, breathing flour/pancake mix, etc that is in the air because eventually, you're going to swallow some.

Hello I was diagnosed Dec 15 of last year and went totally gluten-free the next day. I actually got worse before I got better - it's a steep learning curve - but now, 4 1/2 months later I'm finally seeing improvement. Hang in there.