It appears we gluten-free eaters are some of the trendiest eaters in the US. Folks who watch the food industry say gluten-free will be hot again in 2010. That only bodes well for us right? Sure, but not so fast. Another recent analysis says gluten free may be the trend now, but likely not for long.

Gluten-Free in 2010

According to an article published at NPICenter.com, there are some key trends “emerging that are likely to have a profound effect on the market over the next 12 months.” The article reported a top ten list of trends as put together by Innova Market Insights. This was number seven:

“The gradual move toward more ‘gluten-free’ and other ‘free-from’ foods over the past few years accelerated in 2009 to involve some of the major players and to focus more on taste and quality. High-quality brands are emerging positioned as ‘easy to digest,’ ‘easy on the stomach’ or ‘mild.’”

Foodprocessing.com put it a little differently saying the environment wasn’t quite be there for this gluten-free trend to take shape in 2008, but with its sudden popularity in 2009, it is now poised for greatness in 2010.

“…research increasingly is backing up claims that millions more people are at least somewhat sensitive to [gluten] found in wheat (similar forms of gluten in rye, oats and barley thus far have proven a problem for only a very small group.) The gluten-free category is certainly going to rise to meet a consumer demand based on this research…”

Gluten-Free Trend to End

In September, the Hartman Group did an analysis of gluten-free asking the question how long will the boom in new products and wide selection really stick around? The analysis said it found 93% of the people buying gluten-free products DON’T have celiac disease. So why are they buying gluten-free and will their buying habits last?

The Hartman Group came up with three reasons why non-celiacs are the chief consumer of gluten-free products:

  • Those with an overall interest in health and wellness
  • Those with an interest in ascetic-based practices of self-improvement
  • Fad dieters looking for the “flavor of the month” diet trend

The gist of their three points are many gluten-free desserts that are copying their gluteny counterparts, are often worse for you because of their high carb substitutes that are added to the recipes.

Plus the Hartman Group asked if anyone really would go to the hassle of trying to do this diet if they didn’t have to,

“…certain diets that place too many serious restrictions on the most common of ingredients often prove to be short-term blips because of the social nature of eating. Simply put, one can only go on for so long before the burdensome restrictions become irritable to everyone around them—not to mention themselves.”

It concluded by saying that while gluten-free foods will always be around, the boom we have had in 2009 will likely only be a flash in the pan a decade from now.

“Will gluten-free rise up as something significantly important—perhaps as important as, say, organic—to become one of the most enduring, mainstream food trends of the next decade? Absolutely not.”

Future for Gluten-Free Foods

So what can we take away from this? I think only time will tell what this gluten-free trend will hold in the cooking history books. I do certainly hope the “trend” has educated companies about all of the added junk they put in their foods and persuaded them to make the ingredients simpler for everyone. I would also say I’m thankful that even if it’s a “short-term blip”, it has raised awareness at food manufacturing plants, grocery stores and at restaurants about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.

Things happen for a reason right? Maybe this trend happened to help raise awareness.

By the way, if you want to suggest gluten-free foods as a trend for 2010, one site I stumbled upon is taking suggestions. You can give Epicurious.com your two cents.

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