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Gluten free ‘does not have long term legs’, says trend expert

11 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 13-Apr-2012

The popularity of gluten free foods is set to taper off within the next two or three years, claimed Dr. Elizabeth Sloan, president of Sloan Trends, at the recent Research Chefs Association conference in Texas.

Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten – the protein in wheat, barley, rye and spelt – is estimated to affect about one in every 133 Americans, and the only treatment currently available is complete gluten avoidance.

But a market boom in recent years for gluten free foods is thought to have been driven by a number of other factors, including the families of those with celiac disease also eating gluten free foods as they have become more palatable, non-celiac consumers finding abdominal symptoms are eased when they eliminate gluten from their diets, and others who perceive gluten free foods to be generally healthier or less calorific (often erroneously).

Despite this wide base of consumer interest, Sloan thinks the market is about to slow down.

“This gluten free trend does not have long term legs,” she said. “And the reason for this is twofold.”

Citing Hartman Group research, Sloan said that only 22% of consumers buying gluten free products are buying them intentionally because they are gluten free.

“It doesn’t mean it is the reason why they are buying it,” she said.

Secondly, she said that the gluten free market is far larger than warranted by the proportion of Americans who require gluten free foods. Market research organization Packaged Facts has found that the market for gluten free products has grown faster than expected, and valued the market at  $2.64bn in 2010 – a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% from 2006 to 2010.  

“It is a very good and very strong market, but right now it’s still out of proportion,” she said. “It may continue to grow for the next two or three years, but in the long term, you really need to think about that.”

Sloan is just the latest food industry trend-watcher to express doubt about the potential longevity of the gluten free market.

Two years ago, trends expert Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides, said that the gluten free market was poised to fall like “a house of cards”.

For food manufacturers looking for the next big dietary trend to back, Sloan advises that the rise of plant-based diets may be a safer bet.

“You need to keep an eye on vegetarian and plant-based diets,” she said. “About 25% of households use meat substitutes at least occasionally and it has never been that high before.”

11 comments (Comments are now closed)

Mis-Leading

In order to comment, suggest, predict or even influence future trend of certain foods, or dismissal of some, a thorough research and understanding of the condition is needed.
As one suffering from the condition, which fortunately, was discovered by a GP in my doctors' surgery two years ago, I vouch for all other possible undiscovered cases with condition that has many faces.
In my case, a gluten intolerance followed diet brought unbelievable positive results after 10 days of following the food regime. As, that is what it is.
I can not understand Dr Elizabeth Sloan's understanding of this autoimmune condition that can affect a sufferer in more that 300 ways, basically any organ in the body. In my instance, from complete unexplained tiredness, brain fog, balance problems, memory issues, muscle weakness, bloating and massive water retention, and many more, which are LIFE LONG, and NOT a passing diet fad to lose weight. It is a health problem.
If gluten free diet regime is not followed completely and gluten avoided completely, the results are obvious.
I believe that many more serious conditions are result of undiscovered gluten issue.
A first study author Luis Rodrigoin, MD, from the Gastroenterology Service Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, in Oviedo, Spain, suggests a prevalence of celiac disease among MS patients that is 5 to 10 times higher compared with the general population all over the world(which is between 1% and 2%).

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Posted by Suzana Sterland
22 June 2012 | 13h55

Totally off base

Good advice listed below about monitoring keyword searches and social conversation. I went gluten free over two years ago but wish I had known its affects over 25 years ago which would have saved me a lot of suffering. Gluten free is healthier and more and more people are suffering from it because of increase in whole wheat additives, increased gluten proteins in our wheats, processed foods with fillers and just plain wear down of our digestive tracks! Do a tiny bit of research and you would realize this trends is going to continue full steam ahead. I couldn't disagree with this piece more. Find out for yourself!

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Posted by SPB
16 May 2012 | 20h46

A prediction firm that doesn't Tweet?

I will post a video later today on Gluten-sensitive.com about this article. Over a year ago the Wall Street Journal published an article about the 17-18 million people (1 in 20) that possible have gluten sensitivities. That means this prediction firm had over a year to discover articles like that so that they don't publish articles like this that narrowly focus on Celiac's Disease and the 3 million people with. 17-18 million people + 3 million, is over 20 million. Just want to note too the I monitor keyword search closely and this time last year the term gluten-free was searched 800,000 times on Google alone. Now we're at 2,200,000+. 300% growth. Maybe this prediction firm should open a Twitter account and use the discover feature.

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Posted by vince black
26 April 2012 | 20h49

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