NEW YORK—The gluten-free market is experiencing huge growth with global sales expected to reach more than $4.3 billion within the next five years, according to recent Datamonitor analysis. The U.S. market is expected to grow by more than $500 million by 2014, which would make the United States 53 percent of the global market.
While gluten-free diets benefit those individuals with digestive issues such as Celiac disease, analysts caution that many Americans without digestive problems are adopting gluten-free diets, which ultimately could negatively impact the market.
“The U.S. ownership of more than half the global market for gluten-free products can be partially attributed to popularity of diet fads in the United States,” said Datamonitor analysts Mark Whalley, adding that celebrity endorsement of a gluten-free diet has helped raise public awareness and generate growth. “In fact there are already signs that the gluten-free market may plateau in the future, as the growth we predict over the next five years is somewhat less than what we’ve seen for the last five years.”
Whalley said the gluten-free market may suffer in the same way that low/no-carb products did over the second half of the last decade. He said quality gluten-free products with good taste will help sustain the market, and manufacturers need to adopt a more holistic approach ensuring they communicate the wider benefits of gluten-free foods rather than relying on what is excluded from the products.
“Brands should focus on appealing to a broader audience to strengthen the long-term prospects of gluten-free food. However, they cannot lose sight of the fact that core consumers of the products will always be Celiacs, so relying on consumers outside of this demographic in the long term will prove to be a very risky strategy,” he said.