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Snack Foods Account for Majority of Gluten-free Food Sales—Is That a Problem?
Celiac.com 10/01/2014 - News that snack foods, like cookies, crackers, salty snacks and snack bars now account for more than half of new gluten-free product sales has some leading analysts and industry representatives sounding the alarm.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists, Ardent Mills’ director of commercial insights, David Sheluga PhD, announced that the market is starting to get a bit saturated with gluten-free snack products, and that he’d like to see "a little bit more distribution of other types of product categories."
The top-selling gluten-free categories break down as follows: Crackers ($156m), salty snacks ($125m), bread and rolls ($120m), pasta ($78m), cookies ($60m), baking mixes ($55m), RTE cereal ($49m), ancient grains ($47m), snack bars ($45m), flour ($43m), and frozen pizza ($35m).
Currently, market research company Mintel reckons the US gluten-free retail market topped $10 billion in 2013. This figure includes anything with a gluten-free label, including naturally-gluten-free products.
When the category is limited to products specifically formulated to replace wheat and where gluten-free is "not just a minor claim among a bundle of others," Dr. Sheluga says the market is likely closer to $1.2 billion. 70% of these sales were driven by heavy buyers, who account for just 3.8% of US households.
Still, he says that Ardent Mills remains 'pretty bullish' about gluten-free category growth overall. Sheluga points out that almost three-quarters of gluten-free products on the market in 2009 are still available today, whereas 85% of new products disappear from grocery market shelves after just two years.
Still, Sheluga notes that the market for actual celiac disease patients is limited, and that we may be reaching a point where we can’t push consumers to eat more gluten-free snack.
So, while he notes that there’s likely still plenty of room for the gluten-free food market to grow, he is among a growing chorus to wonder out loud if we reaching a breaking point where we can’t eat any more snacks?
The entire webinar may be accessed for a fee at: IFT
Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams