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Gluten-Free Marketing is Catching on in the Food Industry

Celiac.com 10/01/2012 - As the gluten-free market is exploding, food manufacturers are taking note. More and more food companies are recognizing the need to inform and serve the segment of the market that needs or wants gluten-free products. From gluten-free flours to gluten-free restaurant menus, the prevalence of these products is only expanding—and that means good things for the gluten-free community.

Photo: CC--travelourplanet.comThe Rise of Gluten-Free Merchandising
In the United States alone, sales of gluten-free food and beverages hit $2.64 billion in 2010, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% over the 2006-2010 period, according to Packaged Facts. A report by the Frost & Sullivan consulting firm estimates retail sales of packaged foods free of the protein are approaching $2 billion a year in the U.S. What's more, sales are expected to continue growing—even exceeding $5 billion by the year 2015.

The growth of gluten-free parallels the growth of celiac disease, a gluten intolerance that has doubled in case numbers every 15 years since 1974, according to University of Maryland study. With an increasing number of Americans diagnosed with Celiac, not to mention many more non-diagnosed individuals finding health benefits from avoiding gluten, the market has a ready audience.

Brands Already Active in the Gluten-Free Market
Because gluten-free products require specialty flours and premium ingredients that command higher prices, they're typically more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Yet despite that fact, they're selling fast, which is exactly why so many companies and brands are jumping in.

Gluten-free sales are soaring at Cub Foods grocery stores, according to a report from Minnesota Public Radio. The chain has a website that helps shoppers create shopping lists of items that don't contain gluten, and almost every Cub now has a section dedicated to the category.

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Food-manufacturing giant General Mills, the company behind Cheerios and Betty Crocker, now offers hundreds of products with the gluten-free label. Kellogg has gluten-free Rice Krispies. Beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch sells Redbridge, a gluten-free beer. There's a long list of gluten-free menu options at P.F. Chang's, a wide variety of gluten-free options at specialty grocers like Whole Foods Market (a grocery that has more than doubled its gluten-free products in the last five years) and designated sections of gluten-free products at most major supermarkets, including Kroger, Publix and Wal-Mart.

The Problem for the Celiac Community
Given that there's money to be made in the gluten-free marketplace as the idea grows in popularity among celebrities, athletes, etc., it's no surprise to see so many different brands jumping on board. The problem, however, is not that companies are offering gluten-free products—it's that the products labeled "gluten-free," are often cross-contaminated in production, making them still seriously unsafe for celiac patients. For patients diagnosed with celiac disease, going gluten-free is more than a trend—it's a necessity.

One example of this struggle is Domino's gluten-free pizza crust, launched earlier this year, which the company itself admits it "cannot guarantee … will be completely free from gluten." For someone jumping on the gluten-free fad diet, the pizza is perfect; for someone with celiac, it's a reminder of how hard eating out can be. The same goes for Starbucks, which cannot guarantee a gluten-free environment, as well as many other retailers.

What All This Means for Gluten-Free Customers
There is good news on the horizon for the gluten-free community. What's so significant about the upswing in gluten-free merchandise is that the more gluten-free expands, the more variety there will be and the more that prices are likely to go down. It's the basic law of supply and demand. Whereas in 2007, low availability of gluten-free goods raised prices, soon it could be the opposite that is true. As more companies seek to gain a piece of the gluten-free pie, there will be greater options, more competition and lower price tags.

"The more you produce of something, the less it costs in general in an industrial society, if you're talking about processed products," a University of Minnesota professor, Benajmin Senauer, said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio. "And there's going to be increased competition [in the gluten-free market]."

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2 Responses:

 
Beverly Kendrick
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said this on
08 Oct 2012 4:53:44 PM PDT
I held a Gluten free Fair on may 9, 2012. Many companies can't be declared gluten free because they have non-gluten products in the same plant. Some companies have gluten free plants and non gluten-free plants both. I had the chair come and speak. I invited the two grocery stores in my town to do displays. Some others came too when they found out or I personally invited them.
Many of the foods labeled gluten-free have other unhealthy ingredients in them. I want to have another fair sometime and expand to other stores in a nearby town. READ LABELS EVERY TIME YOU BUY GLUTEN FREE FOODS! Take items back if you find out they don't meet the requirements. Call the companies and e-mail them. Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions. Most companies are very good about responding to you.

 
Eileen Park
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said this on
07 Nov 2012 7:49:17 AM PDT
I make sauces and dressings and wanted to make a gluten-free dressing. The requirements for "Gluten-free" products are much more than just using gluten-free ingredients. I cannot find a plant that would only make gluten-free products so I am considering making them at our usual plant. I'm not sure if this would qualify as "Gluten-Free" or not if it's made in a plant that makes non Gluten-free products.




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You may find these interesting, they're from Professor Marios Hadjivassiliou, a leading expert on gluten ataxia: http://www.acnr.co.uk/pdfs/volume2issue6/v2i6reviewart2.pdf Best of luck helping your daughter

Yep. The one that is most relevant I think is the post by Backtalk. Backtalk went back on gluten and have to a colostomy done on an emergency basis. Not fun. She regretted ignoring the gluten-free diet.

Welcome Lochella Hopefully you can draw some comfort from finally having an answer and thus starting the path to good health. Healing is going to come from your own body as you progress on the gluten free diet and it stops fighting itself and starts repairing that damage. You're still in the very early days and it's not an instant process sadly. 6 months is the usual figure bandied around for seeing significant improvement, although hopefully you'll get some signs of improvement much quicker than that. The single best thing you can do is to eat good simple whole foods and make sure absolutely no gluten gets into your diet. There's some tips here: With stomach pains peppermint tea is my go to drink. Avoiding caffeine seems to help as well as its rough on digestion at the best of times. This may be a time to ease up on alcohol as well and consider dropping dairy, many find they're lactose intolerant but this can correct itself in time. You will find lots of good info, advice and support here, I hope the community is of help to you as it was to me. Best of luck!

I recently got diagnosed with Celiac disease I must of had it my whole life. I'm 35 I've always had severe stomach problems, in and out of hospitals and misdiagnosed until now. My small intestine is severely damaged I'm now waiting to see a dietitian and my specialist wants to see me again in 2 weeks. How do some of you deal with the pain of the healing process and what helps you? I'm in so much pain?

I recently got diagnosed with Celiac disease I must of had it my whole life, in 35 I've always had severe stomach problems in and out of hospitals and misdiagnosed until now. My small intestine is severely damaged in now waiting to see a dietitian and my specialist wants to see me again in 2 weeks. How do some of you deal with the pain of the healing process and what helps you? I'm in so much pain?