Consumer interest in gluten-free eating habits is unquestionably on the rise and foodservice, food retailers, and CPG companies are quickly jumping on the trend. But is gluten-free a long-term trend with legs? Or will this eating trend experience the same fate as fad diets that have come before it?
Gluten is a protein found principally in wheat, rye. spelt, triticale and barley Gluten causes those suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, serious health problems. But celiacs are far from the only consumers exploring gluten-avoidance and gluten-free lifestyles.
Celiac disease affects only 1 in 133 people in the US population. (Gree, PH et., American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2006)
Reasons for purchasing gluten-free products (purchases in the past 3 months)
- 39% - digestive health
- 33% - nutritional value
- 25% - to help me lose weight
- 21% - other
- 20% - desire for healthier skin
- 18% - alleviate joint pain
- 13% - improve mental functional / concentration
- 12% - alleviate stress
- 10% - part of a cleansing regimen
- 9% - alleviate depression
- 6% - alleviate asthma
- 5% - to treat celiac disease
Americans purchasing gluten-free products (purchases in the last 3 months)
- 79% - private label
- 69% - organics
- 13% - gluten-free
But how gluten-free are they really?
Not surprisingly, only a tiny fraction of US consumers consistently adhere to a gluten-free diet.
- 11% - 75-100% of the time
- 10% -51-74% of the time
- 18% - 28-50% of the time
"It just happened to be gluten-free..."
- In examining ‘other* (write-ins), nearly 50% of the responses explained that purchase was riot motivated by anything, but rather the product m question just happened to be gluten-free. Indeed, if you flood the shelves with new product categories, they may eventually sell, but not necessarily for the reasons commonly assumed.
- The gluten-free marketplace will continue to see growth in the near term In the long term, however, gluten-free v/ill prove more reminiscent of fad dieting, such as low-carb, and doesn't represent an enduring trend.
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