Gluten-free products have the greatest impact on the free-from market, as gluten exists in a wide range of products, and sufferers are seriously impacted by the smallest quantity. The market for gluten-free foods and beverages in the U.S. is roughly $700 million in 2006. Annual growth estimates of 15% to 25% are reasonable, projecting to approximately $1.3 billion in sales by 2010. This increase in demand is being driven largely by the increasing awareness of celiac disease, which is currently considered by some to be 97% undiagnosed.
Product introductions for gluten-free foods are growing at a rate even greater than all free-from foods, as is shown in the following Figure.
Not coincidentally, the banner years for growth in the number of gluten-free product claims were the same as the low-carb diet boom, as many of the restrictions are similar for that diet as for wheat allergy sufferers and celiacs. After a slight drop off in 2005 (yet impressive gains nonetheless), the segment is flourishing as demand increases for risk-free products.
The following Figure shows new gluten-free product introduction, by category, 2001-06.
Bakery and snacks were the two categories to see the greatest number of new gluten-free product introductions between 2001 and 2006. This is not surprising because these represent the greatest numbers of products with ingredients that contain gluten, yet it is interesting to note the broad range of categories represented here—including personal hygiene—that can contain trace amounts of gluten, and as such impact celiac sufferers (showing just how far-reaching the impact of gluten can be). This drives home the opportunity that exists to promote the gluten-free status of nearly anything that could be in question as a way to appeal to, and simplify life for, those following a strict gluten-free regimen.
The following examples from other Mintel reports further validate the broad reach and opportunity that exists in gluten-free.
Baking and Dessert Mixes—U.S. March 2007—reveals that a significant 8% of respondents to the exclusive survey done for that report look for gluten-free products. In 2006, 79 new products for baking ingredients and mixes were released—up 508% from 2004.
Frozen and Refrigerated Dough—U.S. February 2007—recognizes the increase in gluten-free claims in that category, highlighting Gluten-freeda’s Real Cookies—pre-formed cookie dough which can be baked and eaten. The gluten- and wheat-free cookies are available in four varieties: Chip Hooray, said to be real chocolate chip cookies “just like Mom used to bake”; Chocolate Minty Python; Peanut Envy; and Peanut, Paul & Mary.
Cookies and Cookie Bars—U.S. August 2006—reports that parents with two or more children in the household are three times as likely to look for cookies with gluten-free positioning.