According to data from SPINS, sales of gluten-free products were up 19% in the year to September 2012 in natural and conventional channels combined (excluding Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market), while Packaged Facts says compound annual growth rate for gluten free products in the US retail market 2008-2012 is approaching 28%.
Mintel data meanwhile, shows that the number of new product launches featuring gluten-free claims rose from 600 in 2007 to more than 1,600 in 2011, while Packaged Facts says the market is growing "even faster than anticipated", and is set to reach $6.5bn in 2017.
Asked why they buy gluten-free products in an August 2012 Packaged Facts consumer survey, 35% said gluten-free products are "generally healthier", 27% said "to manage my weight", 21% said that gluten free products are "generally low-carb" and 15% said a member of the household has a gluten or wheat intolerance.
Just 7% said they were buying them because a household member has celiac disease.
Indeed, according to Packaged Facts, "The conviction that gluten-free products are generally healthier is the top motivation for purchase of these products.”
And while there is absolutely no evidence that following a gluten-free diet is going to make a non-celiac healthier or lighter - in fact the opposite may be true (gluten free diets are often higher in calories and fat and lower in vitamin B12, zinc, iron and folate) - this apparent misconception appears to be what is driving a large chunk of purchases.
Pictured: Jayne Minigell, director of marketing at Elevation Brands, which owns Ian’s Natural Foods, the market leader in frozen gluten-free.
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