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Gluten-Free Food Now Mainstream

Gluten-free food is now a mainstream commercial product.


Gluten-free foods are now mainstream store products. Photo: CC: Bruce Szalwinski.jpg

Celiac.com 09/06/2017 - Gluten-free food is now so mainstream that its lack of gluten is no longer a highlight, but is now just another of the many ways manufacturers signal a healthy product.

Gluten-free has gone from specialty niche to mainstream, says David Sprinkle, research director of the market research firm Packaged Facts.

"Where once upon a time a package might have had a singular fat-free or no-sugar-added label, it is now common to see packages that carry a host of tags such as certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, no antibiotics ever, no artificial preservatives, cage-free and more," says Sprinkle. Gluten-free tag is now just one of many "free-from" tags that help to lure consumers.

That sentiment is shared by Kara Nielsen, sales and engagement manager at U.S.A., for Dutch company Innova Market Insights. Nielson says that Innova's data from "both global product launches and consumer surveys show that gluten-free is not going away, but rather found a place in the mainstream."

So a market once dedicated to people with medical issues has now become a market for consumers who see avoiding gluten as a lifestyle choice.

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As that has happened, gluten-free has become part of that mix instead of being a focal point. This has in turn driven an evolution towards more healthy ingredients, and healthier overall profiles for many gluten-free foods.

"The gluten-free trend is evolving in bakery products to feature more high-fiber and high-protein ancient grains and seeds, including buckwheat, teff and chia seeds, as well as gluten-free oats," Ms. Nielsen said.

For consumers who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, this can require more diligence in their shopping. They can't necessarily trust a gluten-free label without proper scrutiny. There are more than a few tricky labels out there. Some products that appear to be gluten-free may not meet FDA standards.

The upside is a flood of new gluten-free products that are not only safe for people with celiac disease, but markedly healthier than gluten-free products of the past.

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