Gluten-free gaining globally

by Laurie Gorton
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LONDON — Gluten-free baked goods, a category with deep roots in Italy, is now sprouting throughout Europe and most other developed countries, according to figures released by Euromonitor, International, a market research provider based at London.

“It’s important, however, to state that in most markets around the world, gluten-free is just 2.5% of total sales,” explained Lamine Lahouasnia, Euromonitor’s head of packaged food.

Mr. Lahouasnia’s comments are part of an exclusive examination of global trends in baking prepared by Baking & Snack for its September issue.

In Europe’s well-developed bakery market, gluten-free is making a strong stand. It’s huge in Italy but getting big in France, too.

“Gluten-free is becoming very popular,” said Eric Kayser, artisan baker, Maison Kayser, Paris. His business is among France’s leading producers of artisan products and now operates 100 bakeries in 22 countries. “Eight months ago, we began making certain gluten-free products in one of our shops in Paris, and it has been very popular. The traditional styles stay the most popular, but today, people have begun to look for other products that they have seen elsewhere in the world. Everything is more fast-paced now. With the Internet, easier travel and easier exchange of information, people are able to discover new trends and new products with much more ease.”

The experts at Euromonitor confirmed his experience.

“There’s been a rise of gluten-free in many countries,” said Ewa Hudson, the company’s head of health and wellness. “In France, it’s showing strong growth, but Germany is a more developed market for this segment.”

Italy leads the way in bakery and pasta, and one company sells a 30% share of all gluten-free foods in the country.

A report from Dallas-based MarketsandMarkets pegged Europe’s gluten-free sector at about $1 billion in 2012, with France representing 14.1% of the total.

The experience in Australia and New Zealand is similar.

“Over the past five-year period, the change in breads has been the significant move away from white bread and rolls, particularly pre-packaged to the artisanal, healthier and gluten-free breads and rolls,” said Tom Kennedy, current president of the Australian Society of Baking. “Bread is still popular with older Australians, but younger Australians are more adventurous and looking for other options, particularly when it comes to breakfast on the move.”

Gluten-free has entered the scene in a big way. Mr. Kennedy described it as the “inspirational leader in this field,” with 21% of all 2013 new product launches making gluten-free claims.

Consumers in Singapore, one of the Asian Tiger countries, are shifting their buying habits to favor healthy, functional baked goods such as whole grain, low-GI and gluten-free bread, although they still prefer white bread, Euromonitor noted.
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