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Are Supermarket Gluten-free Aisles Fleecing Customers?

Celiac.com 02/22/2016 - Are supermarkets charging extreme prices for certified gluten-free foods, which are basically the same as their non-certified counterparts?

Photo: CC--Health GaugeA Channel 4 exposé of stores in the United Kingdom shows that shoppers are paying huge mark-ups for store brand gluten-free products, while similar unlabeled foods are much cheaper in other parts of the store. The Channel 4 probe found huge price differences between certified gluten-free sauces, soups and crackers and regular equivalents that do not naturally have any wheat or gluten ingredients.

The greatest price discrepancy seem to be for products bearing the supermarkets' private "Free From" labels. For example, Channel 4 found that Tesco charges 64% more for its Free From gluten-free plain wholegrain rice cakes than it charges for lightly salted ones, also without gluten. Tesco's 460g Free From ketchup costs nearly double its regular ketchup, which also contains no gluten ingredients.

Meanwhile at rival Sainsbury's, a 300g Free From juicy tomato and basil soup sells for 3 times the price of a 400g regular tomato and basil soup with no gluten ingredients. Lastly, Sainsbury's 300g Free From massala sauce was priced at nearly 65% more than a 500g jar of regular massala sauce, which also has no gluten.

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Of course, the trick here is that we are comparing certified gluten-free store brands with similar products with no gluten ingredients. For many people, certified gluten-free products provide a degree of safety that they are willing to pay a premium price for.

However, in many cases, a journey away from the gluten-free aisle and some quick ingredient checking might get you a product that is as gluten-free as the certified products, and works every bit as well.

As always, consumers should be aware, read labels, and make choices that work for them.

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4 Responses:

 
Catherine Becker
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said this on
29 Feb 2016 8:23:23 AM PST
This is so true! There are products that have always been gluten free that know are labeled as gluten free and the price is anywhere from 50 to 60% higher then it was before and most often a smaller quality. This is outrages. I'm one that can't cheat on my gluten free so have to pay their price. I still check labels. I live in Mesa, AZ

 
Luann
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said this on
29 Feb 2016 9:41:11 AM PST
Absolutely. I have seen this many times. Although I have found the manufacturer has one marked "Gluten free" on the package. Look at the package that does not say Gluten Free and it is the EXACT same without the words so I have emailed them several times complaining that is not fair.

 
Ian Geary
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said this on
01 Mar 2016 4:31:06 AM PST
I am afraid people who do not do their homework on their illness will be fleeced by avaricious corporations .Why not sell gluten free apples and double the unmarked ones? Some idiot would buy them as snobbishness rules in the UK and some want to pay more just be be better than ordinary mortals.

 
Adele
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said this on
01 Mar 2016 8:01:44 AM PST
While I can imagine there is some cost to the certification process, and some costs involved in being sure a facility and all ingredients are gluten free, I agree that it seems we are being charged too much for, say, a can of beans marked as certified versus not marked at all. I wouldn't suggest, as the article says, to try the non-certified items. Most of them probably are fine, but every so often celiacs will get one or two that aren't and end up sick. My daughter had a hell of a time with symptoms until we cut out any product that didn't specifically say GF, and that change is costing us a lot. She is worth it, of course, but it's not right to take advantage of people who have a serious disease like celiac this way. It's not like they can just choose not to buy these things...




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