Gluten-free product and sales growth

Greater availability and variety in gluten-free foods led to a 136 percent growth over the last two years with meat alternatives, desserts, snacks and energy bars at the top of the growth charts.

There has been a greater awareness of a gluten-free diet in the U.S. along with its perceived health benefits. Mintel Group Ltd released a report on this phenomenon in Oct.2015 called Gluten-free Foods.

The greater interest in gluten-free has led to competition among manufacturers as they introduce new, reformulated, or relabeled gluten-free products. This greater availability and variety of gluten-free products, according to Mintel, has led to the gluten-free food category growing 136 percent from 2013-15, reaching $11.6 billion. The biggest growth was experienced in the meats/meat alternatives (increase of 251 percent), desserts (increase of 167 percent), and energy bars (increase of 162 percent) segment. Mintel data also found that gluten-free snacks were a majority of the new gluten-free products launches since 2014.

Mintel reported that those not diagnosed with celiac disease are significantly more likely to eat gluten-free foods because they feel it is better for their overall health and weight loss as well as a way to manage their gastrointestinal issues, stabilize their mood or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and improve their skin.

More than half of Millennials, Generation Y, have consumed gluten-free foods, compared to 25 percent of Generation X and 14 percent of Baby Boomers, according to Mintel. While shopping in the store, more than half of Millennials are using their phone to access social media and web searches as they look for gluten-free options and check to validate their claims. In reviewing the social media around gluten-free, Mintel found a strong correlation between gluten-free being associated with clean-eating by consumers.

Looking forward, Mintel points to Millennials continuing to drive the consumption of gluten-free products. With half of Millennials preferring to snack throughout the day instead of eating three meals, Mintel sees opportunities for gluten-free healthy snacks that use a high standard for their nutritional claims.

The MSU Product Center, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, provides business counseling for product development, packaging and marketing strategies that will help Michigan entrepreneurs commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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