LONDON – The gluten-free claim is the fastest growing “suitable for/free-from” claim, according to a new report from London-based Leatherhead Food Research. The market for gluten-free foods in the United States and Western Europe was worth about $3.5 billion in 2010, according to the report “Food Allergies and Intolerances: Consumer Perception and Market Opportunities for ‘Free-From’ Foods.”

The largest market was the lactose-free and dairy-free market with estimated sales of $3.6 billion in 2010. A survey of 3,000 consumers suggested Americans and Europeans perceive the main benefits of “free-from” foods are maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, helping to cope with a condition, and helping digestive health. Among the 3,000 consumers surveyed, 39% said they had some form of intolerance or sensitivity to food.