July 12, 2006
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have become common maladies in the last decade. The disease damages the small intestine, making it unable to absorb water and nutrients, and can be reversed by avoiding dietary gluten. According to http://www.celiac.com/home.html, a study estimated the prevalence of celiac disease in the United States to be 1 in 133 in the general population, or approximately 3 million Americans.
Growing awareness coupled with proposed FDA regulations for gluten-free labeling means this market is rapidly growing. A new report from market-research publisher Packaged Facts, New York, estimates that sales of gluten-free products are expected to top $696 million in 2006, according to a new report "Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages." With projected growth of 25% annually over the next four years, the company predicts that the gluten-free market will expand to $1.7 billion by the end of 2010, growing from a modest $210 million in 2001.
The research identifies heavy internal and Internet promotion among celiac support groups and the availability of gluten-free products at specialty and online stores as factors driving awareness and market growth. Health and natural-foods stores provide 40% of overall sales.
"Gluten-free is not going away. Once a person is diagnosed with celiac disease, the only way to prevent it is to stay on a gluten-free diet," notes Don Montuori, publisher, Packaged Facts. "With as many as 97% of celiacs remaining undiagnosed, this remains a largely untapped market that will continue to evolve as more people are diagnosed and more innovative gluten-free products are made available."
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