And interest in gluten-free menu items at restaurants is also growing fast, said the consultancy, with the incidence of consumers ordering food described as gluten-free or wheat-free now more than double what it was four years ago.
“The number of US adults who say they are cutting down on or avoiding gluten is too large for restaurant operators to ignore”, said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst.
AND: Only those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease should eliminate gluten from their diets
Despite strong evidence to the contrary, the belief that a gluten-free diet will help you lose weight and improve your health - even if you don’t have celiac disease - continues to gain momentum, according to a recent survey.
According to a poll of more than 200 registered dietitians conducted by marketing and PR agency Pollock Communications just before Christmas, wheat belly/gluten free’ was predicted to be the “most popular approach to weight loss” in 2013, just ahead of commercial diet programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
However, the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics says that "only those that have a gluten intolerance or have celiac disease should eliminate gluten from their diets".
The conviction that gluten-free is healthier is the top motivation for purchase
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.”
Gluten-free items are now positioned as simply better-for-you choices
New research from Technomic shows there has been an “explosion of gluten-free items” on menus at limited service restaurants (LSRs) in the past two years, with gluten-free now regarded by many diners as a healthy choice rather than an option purely for celiacs, and positioned on menus accordingly.
“Once promoted as a menu alternative to the small segment of the population that suffers from celiac disease, gluten-free items are now positioned as simply better-for-you choices that are generally perceived by consumers to be lighter fare."