Gluten-Free Products Growth Feeds American Appetite

March 12, 2009

For an American general population loaded with health problems but limited on health care, adopting a gluten-free diet is becoming an increasingly popular solution to alleviate complications from the numerous medical maladies associated with wheat and gluten consumption. As a result, the market for gluten-free food and beverage products grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28 percent from 2004 to 2008, to finish with almost $1.6 billion in retail sales last year, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the brand-new report, “The Gluten-Free Food and Beverage Market: Trends and Developments Worldwide, 2nd Edition.”

Packaged Facts projects that ensuing years will experience double-digit growth due to an overwhelming number of positive factors, the most important of which is the existence of more gluten-free products in stores through both product introduction and the conversion of existing products to gluten-free status. By 2012 the market is expected to reach about $2.6 billion in sales.

Medical problems associated with gluten include autism, multiple sclerosis (MS), gluten allergy, various types of gluten-sensitivities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), repetitive strain or stress injury (RSI), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

However, the chronic inflammatory disorder of the small intestine known as celiac disease is the problem most notoriously associated with gluten consumption. The increased diagnosis of celiac disease has been a catalyst and driving force in the gluten-free food and beverage market, rescuing it from being generally regarded as a mere fad popular within the health-conscious populace.

“Evidence shows that the patients that comprise the celiac community are not willing to be passive sufferers. Their passion to live a full life without gluten must be considered one of the most powerful driving forces in the market,” says Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts. “The fact that approximately 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease does not mean that only they are buying gluten-free. Those others suffering maladies relieved by going gluten-free and their ensuing mobilization and activism have focused a great deal of attention on gluten-free eating.”

To meet consumer demand, more than 225 marketers introduced new gluten-free products into the United States in 2008. From supermarkets with private label brands to single product-line specialty marketers, every conceivable type of food and beverage marketer in the United States introduced new products into the market last year.