Gluten Free: Fad or Here to Stay?

by | G+ Amy Leger

I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have a good selection of gluten free products at my local grocery store.  After years of store managers looking at me like I was CRAZY simply asking for them to carry a gluten free pretzel, it is nice to feel like the not-so-unpopular kid on the block.

In the last few years the selection of yummy gluten free foods has been awesome (although much of it is highly processed).  But even though we’re not eating highly-processed foods often, it is sort of comforting to know they exist. Let’s be honest, it is possible some of the newer gluten free treats wouldn’t be around if the so-called gluten free food fad never existed.  But are the gluten free foods we have come to know and LOVE, here to stay??

A new article from looks at two potential food fads:  gluten free diet foods and stevia (sweetener).  It questions whether either of them here to stay or are they something that will be the “next health food fads to find their way to the discount aisles?”

We won’t be delving in the stevia side of the article today, but the writer talks about how the Atkins diet came and went– hurting Krispy Kreme and General Mills’ low-carb line with it.  So General Mills moved into the gluten free market.  It mentions even Kellogg’s didn’t want to do gluten free, but eventually came around and created the Brown Rice Gluten Free Rice Krispies.  That’s the power the gluten free trend has had.

According to research by Mintel, gluten free sales could be between $8-9 billion dollars in 2013.  But because more companies are creating gluten free products and more people are buying them, the writer says it, “does not mean that it is not a fad.”  He delves into Annie’s products, which makes a few gluten free foods. He questions whether Annie’s could be at risk if the gluten free “fad” goes away.  If the trendy diet folks abandon gluten free food to  turn to the next health craze, the author points out, 3 million people who have celiac disease is “hardly enough to turn gluten free anything more than a fad for those other than Celiac sufferers.”

While that’s a relatively undecidedly negative look at the “fad”,  on Monday, the Wall Street Journal website had RBC saying Smart Balance is a bit of a rising star in the stock market.  Smart Balance is apparently considered a “Top Pick” for investors because the company focuses on gluten free and plant-based packaged foods which are two of the “stronger growth categories” right now according to RBC.  Smart Balance owns Glutino and Udi’s; leaders in the gluten-free marketplace.

So it is clear that gluten free products, and the companies that make them, are definitely making Wall Street take notice.  But they seem to be undecided about what the future holds.

Does the thought that gluten free products could fade away with a “fad” ever cross your mind or make you nervous?  What would our options look like in a post-gluten-free-fad environment?  Would they go back to the “olden days”  of few and tasteless choices?  Or do we think there still would be a place for gluten-free foods on mainstream store shelves?

What do you think?  Feel free to post your comments below.



4 Responses to “Gluten Free: Fad or Here to Stay?”

  1. Here’s what I would like: A nice selection of gluten-free foods that are healthy for those with celiac disease. Unfortunately, much of what is out there is over-processed crap (can I say that on your blog??) that many celiacs have trouble digesting.

    But they see the profit in putting “gluten-free” on their product, whether it’s good for us or not. And since there are no strict guidelines (yet) of what is truly gluten-free in this country, celiacs are at risk eating many of these foods.

    Ok…stepping off my soap box now 🙂

  2. While I, too, would like to see healthier gluten free options, I also see the merit of what there is available. I can’t remember how long it’s been since you were diagnosed, Dude, but I know when I had to go GF 21 months ago, I was freaked at how much stuff that I loved that I wouldn’t be able to eat any more. Being able to eat a gluten free muffin or cookie or pizza *at that time* wasn’t just a treat, it was important to my transition to the gluten free lifestyle. Naturally, once I started eating more fruits, vegetables and meats, those treats lost their appeal due to the excess of fat and sugar in them, not to mention the ridiculous price! Mind you, I’m not perfect, and when PC in Canada came out with gluten free bakery goods, you better believe I tried them out! lol The only way to eat relatively healthy gluten free treats is to make them yourself and we are so lucky to live in a time when gluten free recipes are readily available, even if the ingredients are a bit hard to come by.

  3. Hi, Thank you for posting this. I agree with Gluten Dude. I think that the gluten free “fad” is here to stay as more and more doctors and practioners finally start to believe that gluten sensitivity really exists…the last I read, Dr. Fasano estimates that 6% of people are gluten sensitive in addition to the almost 1% who are Celiacs. I hope that gluten related illnesses will soon be viewed as a true public health epidemic.
    My main concern is as that the market for gluten free foods increases, that gluten free foods are going to become so highly processed, in efforts to cut costs, that they are going to cause harm to those of us who are Celiacs. I hope I am wrong…

  4. Although much of “society” might think of a “Gluten Free Diet” as a choice, I think it’s harder to get the Reality of the illness “Celiac” to sink in. So many times, friends and associates will ask off the wall questions, and just go to prove that “Gluten Free” is Seriously misunderstood. It is Not a Fad for a person trapped by it, it is not a Fad for a person struggeling to find a way to afford the food that won’t make them sick, it is Not a Fad when compromises are being made to eat something and suffer vs. going hungry until you can get home and eat the “right food”.
    Gluten Free Needs to be here to Stay for those who need it~not because they choose it. Sugar-Free was made available for Diabetics.

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