Although market growth has slowed somewhat in relative terms, the appeal of gluten-free foods does not appear to be abating, strengthening its market position as more than what some viewed as a passing dietary fad. According to a new report from Packaged Facts, retail sales of gluten-free foods posted an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34 percent over the 5-year period ended in 2014, when market sales reached $973 million.
The gluten-free segment showed growth in several categories during the 2013-2014 period, including pasta, cold cereal, baking mixes, and frozen bread/dough, even though overall sales in those categories dropped slightly. Looking ahead, the gluten-free foods sector is predicted to exceed $2 billion in 2019.
“Retailers have embraced the gluten-free trend by stocking more gluten-free items, featuring them in store, and launching their own private label brands. In addition, retail chains have been courting the gluten-free consumer with a variety of festivals and events," said Packaged Facts Research Director David Sprinkle.
Driving the increased sales of gluten-free products are an escalating prevalence of health problems associated with diet; more and better-quality gluten-free food products and their increasing availability in mainstream retail channels; and favorable rulings on the definition of gluten free by FDA. Effective Aug. 5, 2014, all packaged foods labeled “gluten-free" were required to meet all requirements of the gluten-free labeling final rule published in 2013 by FDA. The new rule applies to packaged foods that sold in retail and foodservice establishments, such as carry-out restaurants.
A Packaged Facts’ July/August 2014 survey data found that more than one-third of consumers claim gluten-free/wheat-free is an important factor when they are shopping for food. In addition, one-quarter of survey respondents had purchased or used food products labeled gluten-free in the three months prior to the survey.
Expect to see more innovation and new product launches of gluten-free products. Food product developers have been hard at work creating gluten-free products that make the grade, but one of the most-challenging sectors continues to be that of baked goods. In the past, gluten-free baked goods lacked appealing texture, but new ingredients and processes are helping food product designers develop gluten-free products that resemble their gluten-containing counterparts, with similar texture, mouthfeel and flavor. We recently explored this subject in “The Joy of Gluten-Free Baking" free Digital Pulse Issue from Food Product Design. Download the issue to learn more about multiple ingredients that work together to replace gluten in bakery products.