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Food Industry Responding to Gluten-free Consumer Demand

Celiac.com 11/27/2014 - A growing desire to avoid gluten is changing the food industry in myriad ways, so says an article in the Oct 25th 2014 edition of the Economist.

Photo: CC--LyzaThe article points to a fast rising consumer demand for gluten-free products that began with sufferers of celiac disease, but has quickly grown to include large numbers of health conscious eaters, and which shows no sign of slowing down.

They cite a recent survey by market research firm Mintel, which says sales of gluten-free food and drink in the U.S. have surged from $5.4 billion to $8.8 billion since 2012, and are set to grow a further 20% by 2015.

They note that Mintel forecasts a 61% growth in gluten-free food sales in America by 2017, with similar increases expected in other rich countries, and they also point to double-digit sales growth of gluten-free products in most European countries--with Britain leading the way.

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Basically, gluten-free food is a strong enough influence on businesses that it is changing the offerings at food markets and eating establishments across the board.

Grocers are giving precious shelf space, and restaurants are shifting their menus to incorporate gluten-free offerings. It was recently reported that more than half of restaurants in the U.S. will include gluten-free items on this menus by the end of 2014.

And, as the Economist notes, Europe is following suit. “Even small convenience stores in remote parts of rural Ireland and Italy now stock ranges of gluten-free bread and cakes,” the magazine points out. The big losers here, in terms of market share are other specialty products, such as vegetarian and meat replacement products, whose sales have fallen flat.

Interestingly, the trend is being ruled not by fad dieters, but largely by people worried about their health. The Economist points to a survey by the research firm Kantar, which found that only about 1 in 5 people who buy gluten-free food say they buy it for non-medical reasons.

Read the complete article in The Economist.

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