According to Euromonitor International’s latest research, gluten-free food has firmly entrenched itself as one of the leading trends in consumer purchasing.
The sector is set to increase to over $4.4bn by 2020 globally, reported the research company.
Its data showed that gluten-free breakfast cereals rose by 79% in the 2010-2015 period, fuelled by the US, Australia and the UK.
All the big cereal players now have gluten-free variants, including Nestlé’s GoFree Cereals (Corn Flakes, Honey Flakes, Rice Pops and Coco Rice), Kellogg’s Special K Gluten Free Touch of Brown Sugar Cereal and Generals Mills’ Cheerios.
This year, General Mills added two variants – Chocolate Cheerios and Fruity Cheerios – to its gluten-free offerings of Original Cheerios (fondly referred to as Yellow box in the US), Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios and MultiGrain Cheerios.
Mike Siemienas, General Mills spokesperson, told BakeryAndSnacks that the company now boasts 850 gluten-free items in its product lineup.
He said that not all of the 12 Cheerio SKUs will be made gluten-free – because of base ingredients – but the company currently is producing another two limited edition variants for the US market: Strawberry Cheerios and Pumpkin Spice Cheerios.
But it has not all been plain sailing for breakfast cereal makers, stated Simone Baroke, contributing analyst at Euromonitor.
“Our packaged food data shows that (total) breakfast cereals declined by just over 1% in value sales during the 2010-2015 review period globally, with significant contractions in core markets,” she said.
Despite accounting for just over one third of global breakfast cereal values sales in 2015, the US felt the greatest pinch, with sales sliding by 15%. Sales in Spain and Portugal fell by 14%, while sales in Germany and Australia fell by 8% and 5% respectively.
Gluten-free varieties, by contrast, performed well, mustering a global value sales gain of 79% in 2010-2015, said Baroke.
While diet fads come and go, observers of nutrition and eating trends say the gluten-free route is likely to stay awhile. Today’s consumers, they maintain, are far more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies, and concerns like food allergies are at an all-time high, among others.
However, the continued buoyant growth of the gluten-free breakfast cereal market is not guaranteed, says Euromonitor.
“Besides the gluten issue, breakfast cereals have two other major weak points: a naturally high carbohydrate content, often combined with added sugar, which seems to be public enemy number one right now,” said Baroke.
“Cereals are also fairly low in protein. These factors are at direct loggerheads with some of the key trends that rule the health and wellness market right now, namely high protein, low carb and low sugar.”
Some slowdown due to market maturity is also to be expected.
As such, Euromonitor International predicts that gluten-free products can expect a modest growth of 34% to 2020.