Retailers help to fuel gluten-free food boom, Euromonitor

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

Retailers have helped to fuel the “gluten-free food boom” for bakery and other products, in moving the category from a medical niche into the mainstream health and wellness food empire claims Euromonitor International.

According to Euromonitor analyst Ewa Hudson, this category achieved double-digit global value sales growth of 11 per cent, even in recession-hit 2009. In comparison, overall health and wellness products achieved a “much more sedate​” 3 per cent growth over the 2004-2009 review period.

In 2009, gluten-free food registered global value sales of US$2.3bn, accounting for 27 per cent of food intolerance sales. Hudson said that half of these sales were generated by bakery products, which is traditionally the most relevant category.

Move into mainstream

The increased diagnosis of coeliac disease, a genetic disorder requiring sufferers to follow a life-long gluten-free diet, has had a part to play in gluten-free’s gowth, according to the analyst.

It was only until the late 1990s when reliable blood tests became more widely available, since then ​incidence figures have leapt to one out of every 100-300 individuals in the general population worldwide,​said Hudson.

“The medical world was hit by the profound realisation that coeliac disease was by no means a rare condition,” ​she said.

Equally significant was the conclusion that coeliac disease was a global problem affecting people of all ethnicities, rather than just those of European origin,” ​Hudson added.

Media coverage

According to the analyst, increasing media coverage of gluten-intolerance symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain, skin rashes and lack of concentration, has also boosted the growth of this category, turning gluten almost into a “enemy of wellness”.

The analyst said that today a significant proportion of gluten-free shoppers are not diagnosed coeliacs but individuals who have diagnosed themselves as being sensitive to gluten, and are cutting it out of their diets with the aim of improving their wellbeing.

Hudson said that retailers the world over have not only responded to this trend but have actively aided its growth by stocking an increasing number of gluten-free brands and introducing gluten-free private label lines.

Continued growth

In line with the Euromonitor analysis, the latest report by Packaged Facts entitled “Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages in the US, 3rd Edition”​, claims that few consumers buy gluten free foods to address celiac disease or dietary intolerances.

According to the findings, only 8 to 12 percent of gluten free consumers said they bought gluten free products because they or a member of their household has celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten, wheat or other ingredients.

The market research organization predicts that the gluten free market will continue to grow over the next five years, albeit at a slower rate, and now projects the US market for gluten free foods and beverages to approach $5.5bn by 2015.

Its current estimate puts the market at $2.64bn in 2010 – a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 per cent from 2006 to 2010.

FoodNavigator.com will be addressing formulation and labelling of allergens - and nutrients to which some individual are intolerant - at its forthcoming Allergen-free Foods conference, taking place in London on 31st March 2011.

The speaker line-up includes Chun-Han Chan, senior scientific officer for allergen threshold programme, Food Standards Agency; Dr Rene Crevel,​science leader, allergy & immunology, Unilever; Paddy Cronin, commercial director, UCB Finsbury Foods; Alfonso Lampen, head of department food safety, BfR, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment – and other experts in the field.

For more information and to sign up, please visit www.fn-allergenfree.com .

Related topics: Gluten-free & Allergens, Markets

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