Gluten-free industry continues to surge

GlutenFreeIcon_shutterstock_resizedNew data recently released estimates that the market for gluten-free foods has grown 63% from 2012-2014, making it one of the fastest growing food markets worldwide. According to a recent article, one research firm is estimating the market will achieve $8.8 billion in sales by the end of 2014.

While all gluten-free food segments increased over the past two years, the snack food segment witnessed the largest increase of 163%, reaching total sales of $2.8 billion. According to the article, this increase can be mainly contributed to a 456% increase in the sale of gluten-free potato chips.

Next in line in terms of sales is the gluten-free meats/meat alternatives segment, reaching $1.6 billion in 2014, a 14% increase from 2012-2014. As stated in the article, “the bread products and cereals segment saw gains of 43% during that same time period and is set to reach $1.3 billion this year.” This area especially is expected to continue to see additional growth as currently only 1% of the overall segment is termed gluten-free.

“Overall, the gluten-free food market continues to thrive off those who must maintain a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, as well as those who perceive gluten-free foods to be healthier or more natural,” Amanda Topper, a food analyst, said to meatpoultry.com. “The category will continue to grow in the near term, especially as FDA regulations make it easier for consumers to purchase gluten-free products and trust the manufacturers who make them. Despite strong growth over the last few years, there is still innovation opportunity, especially in food segments that typically contain gluten.”

Other data also recently released states that 44% of Americans surveyed in 2014 agreed that “gluten-free diets are a fad.” This is up 10% from those who agreed on this statement just one year ago. However, that has not slowed the segment’s popularity with 22% of Americans saying they currently follow a gluten-free diet, compared to 15% of those surveyed in 2013.

“Gluten-free products appeal to a wide audience,” Topper said. “41% of US adults agree they are beneficial for everyone, not only those with a gluten allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. In response, food manufacturers offering either gluten-free alternatives or existing products with a gluten-free label have increased dramatically over the last several years.”

To go along with this trend, the market for allergen testing to detect gliadin/gluten has also seen dramatic increases over the past two years. According to another article, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) define “gluten-free” as less than 20 parts per million (milligram per kilogram) of gluten in a food sample and rely on allergen testing to confirm a product is in fact “gluten-free” before hitting the shelves.

To test for this, quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are one method used in the food safety industry as they detect residual gluten in foods or food ingredients through antibodies that specifically recognize gluten components present in extracts from food samples. For information on Neogen’s line of gliadin/gluten tests, click here.

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