Advertisement
Share

Gluten-free: More new products than ever

A few decades ago, gluten-free products mostly meant rice cakes. Today, the category just won’t quit.

Even industry analysts have been surprised at the strength of the gluten-free claim, said Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director at Datamonitor Consumer, which tracks the introduction of new products into the U.S. market.

Advertisement

So far this year, more than 18% of the new food products put into stores make a gluten-free claim, the firm said. That’s compared with 11.5% in 2012 and 11.7% in 2011.

Photos: Which gluten-free flours make the best cake?

Many of the more recent new products are in the snack-food category, Vierhile said.

Anyone who goes to the supermarket knows about that: Many stores have entire sections set aside for dozens of crackers, cookies, baking mixes, pretzels and chips made with flours that don’t contain wheat, such as corn, rice or chickpeas.

Advertisement

A recent expo held in Pasadena by the Celiac Disease Foundation was jammed with people interested in trying new foods.

It’s estimated that about a third of Americans are trying to avoid gluten -- some to manage the serious disease called celiac, some for less serious allergies or intolerance and some because going gluten-free has become something of a fad.

Advertisement

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

Vierhile found this interesting information for us: From Jan. 1, 2012, to May 14 of this year, the top five categories with new products making the gluten-free claim and the number of new products, including various flavors and sizes were: cereal bars (297); savory snacks (272); potato chips (162); chocolate (149) and sugar confections, such as hard candies (143).

Advertisement

Skeptics might ask why hard candy or potato chips need to put a gluten-free label on their products, but it turns out there’s a reason that really matters to people who have celiac disease. They can be sickened by eating something that’s made in the same facility with gluten-containing products.

The federal government is soon to issue a definition of gluten-free that would likely mean a product could have no more than 20 parts per million of gluten, but for now there are private certification companies that issue a seal.

Advertisement

“There is probably an upper limit to the market for gluten-free, but it isn’t clear that this limit has been reached yet,” Vierhile said.

ALSO:

Advertisement

Gluten-free expo: Highlights of the food

Want cake? Here are some gluten-free options

Advertisement

Going gluten-free more common, but not necessarily easier

mary.macvean@latimes.com

Advertisement

Twitter/@mmacvean


Advertisement