Gluten-free products … fad or fixture?

July 13, 2010

The global gluten-free market is set to grow by $1.2 billion over the next five years to be worth over $4.3 billion, predicts Datamonitor. Research by the independent market analyst, Datamonitor, expects the U.S. market for gluten-free products to grow by more than $500 million by 2014, making the U.S. contribution to the global market a staggering 53%.

“The U.S. ownership of more than half the global market for gluten-free products can be partially attributed to popularity of diet fads in the United States,” said Mark Whalley, Consumer Analyst at Datamonitor. “There is also a wider audience for a gluten-free diet, greatly outnumbering those suffering from celiac disease. Combined with this, the numerous symptoms associated with celiac disease have increased concern among non-celiac sufferers, therefore further increasing the available market for gluten-free products.”

However, Datamonitor believes there is a risk that the gluten-free market will suffer in the same way that low/no-carb products did over the second half of the last decade. With a number of consumers also wrongly self-diagnosing themselves as celiacs, as well as gluten-free being somewhat of a “vogue diet”—therefore susceptible to a rapid decline in popularity among non-celiacs—it is possible that long-term growth will be negatively impacted.

“In fact, there are already signs that the gluten-free market may plateau in the future, as the growth we predict over the next five years is somewhat less than what we’ve seen for the last five years,” said Whalley. “One hurdle brands face is making sure the taste of gluten-free products is appealing. Manufacturers need to adopt a more holistic approach, ensuring they communicate the wider benefits of gluten-free foods rather than relying on what is excluded from the products.

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