Gluten-Free Market: Popular, but Risk Involved for Food Companies
Posted Jul 13 2010 7:00am
We have all benefited from the gluten-free food trend. Celiac, gluten sensitive or neither — people across the country are trying the diet for various reasons. Now new research from Datamonitor, and published in FoodBusinessNews.net says for business there may be some “cons’ with the “pros” of going with a gluten-free line of products.
Datamonitor reports that the gluten-free food market is “expected to grow by $1.2 billion during the next five years and reach more than $4.3 billion”. While celiac disease is being diagnosed more, the article credits fad diets with the economic boost. “There is also a wider audience for a gluten-free diet, greatly outnumbering those suffering with celiac disease. Combined with this, the numerous symptoms associated with celiac disease has increased concern among non-celiac sufferers, therefore increasing the available market for gluten-free products,” Mark Whalley, a consumer analyst with Datamonitor told FoodBusinessNews.net.
General Mills may not think so. It’s gluten-free line of Chex cereals have helped them stay strong during tough economic times. When it launched a gluten-free website last December, it’s news release said gluten-free inquiries continue to be one of the most common of their customer service folks.
But the folks at Datamonitor do. The article says,
“…there is a risk the gluten-free market will decline in the way the low/no-carb market did. There are a number of consumers who are wrongly self-diagnosing themselves as celiacs, and since the gluten-free diet has become a ‘vogue diet’ it has the potential for a rapid decline in popularity among those who don’t have the disease.”
One suggestion from Mark Whalley is that companies who do gluten-free foods need to broaden their marketing of the products, “Manufacturers need to adopt a more holistic approach ensuring they communicate the wider benefits of gluten-free foods rather than relying on what is excluded from the product.”
Whalley brings up a good point when it comes to marketing the products. The way I see it, some companies may not tout the healthy nature of the item because some gluten-free products can be just as unhealthy as the gluten-filled counterpart; packed with saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar. If the gluten-free fad goes away, why would people who don’t have celiac or a gluten-sensitivity, buy it if it doesn’t have an additional nutritional value? This in my view creates the risk Datamonitor is eluding to in this research.