According to the Gluten Inteolerance Group (GIG), as the gluten-free market evolved, more products tacked on the gluten-free claim, leading to the development of a certification program that consumers could trust.
Chris Rich - who joined GIG in 2014 as VP of marketing and development to improve the program - said the ultimate goal was to create not just a resource but a community for everyone, whether following a gluten-free diet for medical or other reasons.
He has also strived to streamline the website for its diverse constituencies.
“When I came on board, we were generally a resource website,” he said. “There was a lot of information there that was all over the place.”
Today, the GF symbol means the product within the package can be trusted as being gluten-free.
GIG also expanded its certification to foodservice outlets, helping restaurants and kitchens follow best practices for gluten-free prep spaces.
“We have these new flavors and tastes, and it’s not as bad as it was five years ago in terms of textures and flavors. Now you have a lot more products to compete with out there, and, as a manufacturer, you have to stay on top of that” - Chris Rich
Gluten-free product evolution
Mintel reported in 2014 that the gluten-free market was ripe for innovation, particularly for breads, pasta, pizza, snacks and desserts, and today, GIG has certified more than 53,000 products.
As many as 40% of consumers reach for gluten-free foods for health reasons, which has helped the market blossom beyond celiacs and gluten-intolerant consumers.
However, this has meant that manufacturers “really have to step up and be a little bit more creative and diversify what they’re doing,” said Rich.
“We have these new flavors and tastes, and it’s not as bad as it was five years ago in terms of textures and flavors. Now you have a lot more products to compete with out there, and, as a manufacturer, you have to stay on top of that.”
GIG aims to empower consumers through support, advocacy and education and Rich believes the certification program will keep growing, as the type of consumer opting for gluten-free likely will, too.
“As the marketplace grows, we want to be that kind of inclusive resource. We call ourselves the boots on the ground organization,” said Rich.