Chicago — Although just one percent of the population is affected by celiac disease, the gluten-free market is set to pass $10 billion this year. It's driven by consumers who say they not only believe gluten-free food is healthier (65 percent), but that it also helps them lose weight (27 percent), despite there being no substantive research to prove either of those benefits, according to a new Mintel Group, Ltd. survey.
Growing at a rate of 44 percent within the past two years, the gluten-free food market is set to continue its steady pace, in part because of “the positioning of gluten-free products as having multiple health benefits, such as low fat or no animal ingredients, which may be leading to consumer perceptions that gluten-free products are healthier than products that contain gluten,” Analyst Amanda Topper says.
For 36 percent of Americans eating gluten-free, allergies are not a factor, while seven percent eat gluten-free to alleviate inflammation and four percent eat it to combat depression, Mintel finds.
In order to ensure the three million Americans who actually are suffering from celiac disease can purchase gluten-free food with confidence, the FDA recently standardized the use of gluten-free labeling, requiring all products carrying the claim contain less than 20 parts per million of the protein.