While only 11% of U.S. households follow a gluten-free diet, about one in four consumers feel that gluten-free is good for everyone, reports The NPD Group, a global information company. However, the general healthfulness of gluten-free foods is offset, consumers say, by the high cost and taste of these foods, finds NPD’s recently released Understanding the Gluten-Free Trend report.
The perception that gluten-free is generally healthy is reflected in NPD’s finding that only 25% of those living in a gluten-free home say celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is the main reason. Among the other reasons consumers cite for following a gluten-free diet are that it improves digestive health and eliminates toxins from the body.
“There is clearly a segment of the population who avoids gluten for reasons other than gluten sensitivity or disease, providing a greater opportunity for food manufacturers and retailers,” said Darren Seifer, NPD Food and Beverage Industry Analyst. “Food marketers should pay close to attention to all of the reasons for a gluten-free diet and connect the reasons with appropriate messages in order to better target your audiences.”
Food marketers also need to keep in mind that offsetting the consumer-perceived benefits of a gluten-free diet is what consumers consider the downsides, which are the high costs of gluten-free products and the taste of these products not being up to par. Half of gluten-free consumers say that they may not be willing to sacrifice taste in order to maintain a gluten-free diet; however, the most cited reason for choosing to not purchase a gluten-free product is that it was too expensive, according to The NPD Group report.