Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He has covered Health News for http://Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for http://Sharecare.com. His work has appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate, among others.
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.
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.
However, 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?