The global gluten-free market is set to grow by $1.2 billion over the next five years, to reach $4.3 billion by 2015, according to recent research by Datamonitor. That's good news for pizza companies that have sought to include gluten-free options in their menus. But recent upticks in the food trend can be deceiving for long-term consumption projections.
Research by the independent market analyst company expects the U.S. market for gluten-free products to grow by more than $500 million by 2014, making the U.S. contribution to the global market a staggering 53 percent. Datamonitor consumer analyst Mark Whalley said the States’ large share of the growth trend can be attributed to gluten-free fad diets, bolstered by high-profile proponents such as Jenny McCarthy, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, and Jennifer Aniston.
That's a double-edged sword for the market’s growth: While the prevalence of gluten-free fanfare has helped to heighten awareness and concern among those who hadn’t previously identified themselves as celiac disease sufferers, there’s also the chance of wrong diagnosis. Also, self-identified non-celiacs who are ascribing to gluten-free diets for weight loss or wellness also will likely accelerate a predicted dropoff.
“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,” said Whalley.
“Manufactures 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.”