You know you’ve been writing about gluten free for a long time when a story comes full circle.  Back in 2009, I wrote an article entitled Prediction: Gluten-Free Products – Growth Through 2012.  It talked about how industry experts thought gluten free would be strong for the next few years.

The quote from 2009’s Business Wire says,

“Packaged Facts projects that this segment of the U.S. retail marketplace enjoyed a 28% CAGR [Compound Annual Growth Rate] to reach $1.56 billion by the end of 2008. Packaged Facts goes on to project that the segment will continue to grow, though not at the same torrid pace, through 2012.” — Business Wire, April 2009

Fast forward to fall of 2012 when Packaged Facts gave us an update:

“The market for gluten-free foods and beverages has continued to grow even faster than anticipated, reaching $4.2 billion in 2012, for a compound annual growth rate of 28% over the 2008-2012 period.” October 17, 2012

New Cub Store Signage for Gluten Free Foods

New Cub Store Signage for Gluten Free Foods

It certainly has.  To the point where for nearly every one of the last four years I have updated how the gluten free trend would continue into the new year.

Recent changes in gluten free landscape

How has the gluten-free landscape changed since this report in 2009?

  • Gluten Free Rice Krispies
  • Gluten Free sections in mainstream grocery stores
  • Huge improvement in gluten-free bread options (Udi’s, Rudi’s, Goodbye Gluten)
  • A boom of gluten free pizza availability at local and national pizza places (114% growth in the last three years according to
  • Dunkin Donuts offering gluten-free fare
  • Phone apps to track gluten free food no matter where you are
  • An expanded selection of gluten free beer
  • Gluten free school lunch options

The gluten free selections have come SO far in the last few years it is incredible.  Attribute it to people being more health-conscious about their eating, celebrities touting the benefits of being gluten free…either way we have more selection.

However in my opinion, over the last few years companies seeing this gluten free opportunity, jumped on the bandwagon, not understanding the time and education it would take to do gluten free right — specifically restaurants.  For example, some pizza places may not understand the importance of  doing as much as they can to keep their pizza gluten free– which means taking precautions in preparing, ingredients, baking and cutting of the pizza.  California Pizza Kitchen had an epic fail with their gluten-free pizza, pulling the product in August 2011, a few months after its debut. Pizza remains off their gluten free menu to this day.  I still say you need to be very careful when ordering gluten free pizza.  You need to ask about their preparation practices, if the ingredients (including the ladle for the sauce) are shared and other possible contamination areas.

What’s next?

As we look ahead what can we expect for 2013? says the popularity of gluten free will lead to more new products in 2013. predicts gluten free will become more common in fast food places. reported in more detail on the Packaged Facts study that it is predicted gluten free snack foods and frozen pizza will become more popular.

So now what is the prediction for the next few years?

“While growth rates will moderate over the next five years in the wake of market expansion, Packaged Facts projects that U.S. sales of gluten-free foods and beverages will exceed $6.6 billion by 2017.”

So when is the popularity of gluten free no longer considered a trend but rather among the mainstream?  That remains to be seen.



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