In the last five years, gluten free foods have flourished into a multi-billion dollar business. If you have been doing gluten free for as long as our house has (nearly 14 years), during those “pre-trend” years I never would have imagined a Gluten Free Bisquick, egg rolls, ravioli, or a Tyson gluten free chicken nugget!
We have the trend, in part, to thank for the huge selection that has become available to us. I first started reporting on the trend not long after I started my website in 2008. It has been near the top of the food diet trends ever since.
But some signs show that could be changing.
Report: Gluten Free Market Decline
A new article, published February 24, 2014, in QSRWeb.com says the gluten free trend has peaked and is suggesting to manufacturers who may be considering entering this trend they should prepare to downsize quickly and/or have a “fast-acting exit strategy”.
The article cites Packaged Facts’ research that reportedly says “in the past two years [the gluten free diet] has failed to attract new users.”
It also says:
- 35% are buying gluten free foods because they are healthier, down from 46% two years ago
- 24% of consumers think gluten free is a gimmick, up from 11% two years ago
- 18% of consumers currently believe that gluten free products are higher quality, down from 24%
It also cites a Symphony IRI executive briefing that says “growth rates of key label claims – organic, natural and gluten-free – are leveling off.” While there is no date to this report in the article, it cites years between 2009-2012 in food product activity.
The article also cites the NPD Group saying that “the gluten free growth remains small.” Then it added, “about 28 percent of adults 18 and older reported saying they are avoiding gluten, a 1% increase over 2010.” I believe that information is from this article published in February of 2013.
SuperMarket Guru: Gluten Free Trend Peaking
In a gluten free trend post I did last November I asked Phil Lempert, also known as the SuperMarket Guru, what was going on in the gluten-free market and he said, as of now it is a hot food trend and he believes more new products will hit store shelves. “Although,” Lempert said, “we are seeing shoppers who are not celiac moving away from buying gluten free due to cost and over health concerns of a gluten free diet lacking nutrients including: fiber, iron, B vitamins and calcium.”
He predicts a big change coming soon. “Frankly, I see it as a bubble bursting and in another two years revising and many of the products that are on the shelves now will disappear,” Lempert said.
What does this mean?
Don’t worry you don’t have start stockpiling gluten free foods yet.
In the QSRWeb.com report, it would appear that the studies cited are only as recent as 2012 (since the article doesn’t actually link to any of the reports it is difficult to confirm all of the information being reported).
So I turned to the first source in the article, Packaged Facts, a product research firm, to see if that company could help us make sense of all this. I asked whether the information cited in the QSRWeb.com article was accurate and when was it published. Daniel Granderson of Packaged Facts said the content quoted was from their Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages in the US., 4th Edition report published in October 2012. The only thing that was necessarily wrong was the second bullet point above which should read 13% not 11%.
“At the time that report was written, we found that the gluten-free trend was gaining momentum and looked like it would have a multitude of avid supporters due to both the fact that so many celebrities had transformed the gluten-free trend into a chic, front-and-center dietary phenomenon and because Americans in general were increasingly looking for ways to improve their health,” Granderson said.
But Granderson adds, while the trend may wane, great gluten-free options will still be available.
“The gluten-free trend was never meant to be the end-all solution to a healthy lifestyle. It’s simply another option in a long list of potential lifestyle choices that one can explore to find the right fit for their individual lifestyle.
Whenever the next big diet trend hits, food marketers will flock to flood the market with these products. This will likely mean less retail shelf space for products related to the various dietary trends of yesterday, including gluten free products. However, this by no way means that these products will suddenly disappear entirely from stores, nor does that mean that new, innovative products will stop being produced.
Those who seek out gluten free products for medical reasons will still have access to a variety of food options. The gluten free market is neither dead nor dormant, it’s simply settling into its rightful place in the food and beverage landscape.” — Daniel Granderson, Packaged Facts
What do you think about the future of gluten free? Feel free to comment below.