Dec 13 2016

The State of Gluten-Free in America

Published by at 8:15 am under Celiac,Cooking,Diet,Food,Gluten Free,Health

Cart in grocery store

We’ve come a long way since gluten-free foods were nearly nonexistent in grocery stores.
Photo credit: Caden Crawford via VisualHunt / CC BY-ND

As we say goodbye to 2016, it’s useful to reflect on how far the gluten-free movement has come in just a few years. It really wasn’t that long ago when gluten-free products could only be found on half a shelf in the back of specialty food stores. Over the past couple of years, conditions like celiac disease have become much more visible, as well as gluten-intolerance. Many people (and celebrities) without these conditions are embracing the gluten-free lifestyle just to try to improve their overall health and energy levels. Let’s see where the non-gluten lifestyle is in American right now.

Sales of Gluten-Free Food Are STILL Growing

Perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen over the last five years is an explosion in the amount and variety of gluten-free foods available. Food manufacturers are bending over backwards to offer gluten-free alternatives to everything from pasta, to cereal, and even brownies and cookies. It’s paying off big time for them. While we don’t have data for 2016 yet, the firm Packaged Facts found that sales of gluten-free products rose to $1.57 billion in 2015. That’s an 11% increase from the prior year!

You Can Go Out to Eat Without Fear

Food manufacturers aren’t the only ones jumping on the no-gluten bandwagon. Consumers have probably noticed more gluten-free options popping up on the menus of their favorite restaurants. That means no more risky gamble when ordering a new dish. According to DataSsential Menu Trends, 23.6% of restaurant menus now offer gluten-free options. That’s even more than organic options! It’s also an 8% rise since 2015.

More People Are Going Gluten-Free Even If They Don’t Have To

Those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance have long been forced to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle simply to protect their health. One of the most interesting trends over the past few years is the amount of people who are kicking gluten simply to improve their health. In 2016, a Euromonitor survey found that 53% of consumers were actively trying to avoid specific ingredients in the foods that they purchased. Of those, 22.4% were looking to avoid gluten, more than a 7% increase from the year before. What’s even more interesting is that according to a recent report from Packaged Facts, only 15% of consumers choose gluten-free foods because a member of their household is sensitive to gluten. Almost 30% of respondents said that they buy gluten-free products because they think these foods are healthier.

What Can We Expect in 2017?

It’s difficult to predict if all this interest in gluten-free eating is just another diet fad, or if it is here to stay. Certainly, we’ve seen growing skepticism about the health benefits of eating a gluten-free diet if you do not have a sensitivity to gluten. However, for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, a gluten-free lifestyle is definitely not a fad. We hope that food manufacturers and restaurant owners will continue to offer healthy, great-tasting gluten-free alternatives for those who cannot or choose not to eat gluten.

Here’s to a happy and gluten-free 2017!

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