I say the more the merrier! In 2000, when we started cooking gluten-free for our 15-month-old baby, there were hardly any gluten-free products made by gluten-free or allergy-free companies. My how the times have changed. A recent article I read at stltoday.com discussed the massive growth of the gluten-free food industry in the last few years and I’m here to add a collective “WOO HOO”!
Booming Celiac-Friendly Businesses
I love that in a poor economy gluten-free businesses are growing! Just as I was sitting down to write this very post, more proof falls into my lap! Late last night a web-exclusive Newsweek article entitled A New Diet Villain popped into my email box. Karen Springen writes, “Gluten has become the new diet villain. Over the past year, manufacturers in the United States have sold more than $2 billion worth of products with “gluten free” claims, according to the Nielsen Co.”
What’s even better is that it continues to boom. This fall, the Nutrition Business Journal reported sales of gluten-free foods is the fastest growing US grocery category – increasing by more than 18% a year. I say keep it coming. It’s a welcome sight to see gluten-free sections of stores creep their way from just one shelf, to an entire aisle! Our selections and the quality of the products are getting better and better as the competition grows.
So why the boom? It’s not solely because of celiac disease. You can credit autism, ADHD, and many people on fad diets for public outcry for the food. One dietitian in the Newsweek article says, “For some people without celiac disease, a gluten-free diet may make them feel better through the placebo effect…and of course simply eating fewer cookies and pies can contribute to feeling healthier overall.”
Could the boom turn into an all-out gluten-free product explosion? It could happen once the Food and Drug Administration makes its anticipated ruling on gluten-free labeling. Executive Director of the Gluten Intolerance Group, Cynthia Kupper, says in the Newsweek article, “Once that goes through, we will see some of the big boys label gluten-free”. Wow dreamy!
No matter what the reason, I believe any cause or fad diet that brings the gluten-free lifestyle into public view is worth it. Celiac disease is getting more exposure from it and we’re getting better food and more choices – even pizza at a local restaurant! What’s next? Automatically getting gluten-free rolls with your restaurant dinner? Say it ain’t so!