Gluten-free reports reiterate enormous opportunities, say market researchers

US supermarket chains are capitalizing on the growing gluten-free trend by adding gluten-free aisles and employing in-store dieticians. Pic: ©iStock/chameleonseye

New research has underscored the potential for bakers and cereals processors to boost their gluten-free sales.

Technavio forecasted strong growth in the global gluten-free market, with an expected CAGR of 11.62% by 2021, while Research Nester predicted the gluten-free packaged food sector will reach $8.1bn by 2023, up from $4.5bn in 2015.

In fact, in light of its growing popularity, Canada’s celiac association has called for a global gluten-free definition following the success of a certification program in the North American nation.

According to Research Nester, the bakery product segment had the largest market share of the gluten-free market in 2015, closely followed by cereals and snacks. The bakery segment is anticipated to maintain its dominance until 2023.

One of the primary drivers behind the popularity of gluten-free eating is the increasing awareness of its health benefits, particularly for digestive wellness.

Worried well

The rise of the ‘worried well’ – healthy people who make self-diagnoses – as well as the increasing numbers of celiac sufferers, are fuelling this sector.

However, said Technavio, a key growth factor is the introduction of new products.

Gluten-free products have highly evolved and are attracting a wider audience than ever before.

Research Nester claimed there are more than 2,000 gluten free food items available in the US, and consumers are more likely to find these foods in regular grocery stores.

Technavio stated that while companies are targeting various supermarkets and department stores to increase shelf space for their products, US supermarket chains such as Sprouts, Publix and ShopRite are taking it a step further by adding gluten-free sections and aisles, and employing in-store dieticians.

The easy availability of gluten-free sources, such as corn, quinoa, rice, soy, chia and sorghum, are also prompting new product innovations in bakery products in developed markets like the US, Canada, Germany and Italy, said Technavio.

It is estimated that snacks account for over 50% of the gluten-free food market.

Healthy image

The rising awareness of obesity and diabetes, along with the increasing consumer awareness towards the limited intake of gluten protein in their diet, is majorly driving the gluten-free packaged food market across the world, said analysts at Research Nester.

To highlight this, Technavio points to Gallo Snacks from Molinos Río de la Plata SA as a leading gluten-free products brand in Argentina due to its healthy image and successful marketing campaign.

“Gluten-free products have traditionally appealed to people with specific allergies or sensitivities, but increasing numbers of consumers are cutting gluten intake simply because they perceive it as a healthier option,” said Brigitte Peters, technical manager at Sensus.

Soluble dietary fiber

The Dutch company works with researchers around the world to produce inulin, a natural soluble dietary fiber that comes from the roots of the chicory plant. It can also be used to replace sugar and fat.

Last year saw a number of new gluten-free SKUs, including McVitie’s Gluten-Free Original Hobnobs from United Biscuits; six new products from Schär in the UK, including Pain au Chocolate and Seeded Ciabatta; two limited edition Cheerio’s – Strawberry and Pumpkin Spice – from General Mills; and a gluten-free Cornish pastry from Helston’s Good Food Bakery rolled out in the UK in August.

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