The appeal of gluten-free foods is on the upswing, with U.S. retail sales of gluten-free foods ringing up $973 million in 2014 and projected sales expected to exceed $2 billion in 2019, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. The gluten-free segment showed growth in several categories during the 2013-2014 period, including pasta, baking mixes, frozen bread/dough and cold cereal.
What’s more, the cold cereal sector—worth an estimated $28 billion in retail sales—is poised for huge opportunities in better-for-you innovations. Cue in General Mills, who along with Kellogg’s, commands 60% of the global ready-to-eat (RTE) cereal markets.
General Mills last week announced its Lucky Charms would be joining five varieties of Cheerios on the gluten-free list. Lucky Charms will feature the oat flour being made for gluten-free Cheerios. Other ingredients in Lucky Charms already are gluten free, including the marshmallows.
General Mills developed a way to sort out the small amount of wheat, rye and barley in its supply of whole oats that are inadvertently introduced at the farms where the oats are grown, or during transportation of the whole oats to the mill. This sorting ensures that the oats used for the five Cheerios varieties and Lucky Charms allow General Mills to meet the FDA’s strict guideline for gluten-free. Lucky Charms labeled gluten free will be on store shelves in September with national distribution by October. The five varieties of Cheerios going gluten-free—Original Cheerios, Honey Nut, Multi-Grain, Apple Cinnamon and Frosted—will be in stores nationwide by September.
Demands for improved nutrition also have prompted developers to reduce sugar and sodium as well as increase fiber in RTE cereals. Download the free “Building Better-For-You Breakfast Cereals" Digital Pulse to learn about ingredients that can boost fiber in breakfast cereal, while navigating formulation challenges in better-for-you RTE cereals.