One in 133 Americans — about 1% of the population — have celiac disease, and about 83% of them are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, according to Beyond Celiac. That means there is a greater number of consumers who shouldn’t be eating gluten. Additionally, gluten-free products are now bought by more than just involuntary consumers.
Of the 1,000 US and Canadian consumers who recently purchased gluten-free products in Ingredion Inc.’s report “Going Gluten-Free By Choice,” 46% did so for reasons other than gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Some of these intentions include inflammation reduction, perceived weight loss, the search for more natural and fewer artificial ingredients as well the preference to not eat grains.
DuPont Nutrition & Health’s consumer survey released in February emphasized that healthy living is the main driver of gluten-free purchases, and consumers demand better quality and wider availability. “It’s clear that consumers are looking for gluten-free bakery products that match regular products in terms of taste, texture and appearance,” said Lena Hamann, strategic marketing manager for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, DuPont. “From a health perspective, they are interested in claims such as reduced sugar and high fiber and other ingredients that give a better nutritional profile.”
Naturally, baked products overall are at the top of the gluten-free shopping list. According to Ingredion’s report, the most popular items voluntary gluten-free consumers purchase are chips, crackers, pasta, bread and cereal. Bread comes in third — 59% of the surveyed consumers shop for this item — with crackers and pasta leading the way.
Eighty percent of recent voluntary gluten-free consumers typically look for the claim on products, especially pizza, crackers and tortillas. As this free-from trend becomes a priority for bakers, it not only creates better availability and quality for voluntary consumers but also for involuntary consumers who need these products the most.