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Bursting the gluten-free bubble

The gluten-free trend doesn’t have long legs, reported Dr. Elizabeth Sloan, president of Sloan Trends, in a presentation at the recent Research Chefs Association conference in Texas. Among her findings, a few standout themes emerged:

  • Only 22% of consumers are buying gluten-free products intentionally—they aren’t necessarily buying these products because they are gluten-free.
  • The gluten-free market is much larger than warranted by the population of Americans who require gluten-free foods, leading the market to grow at an unsustainable rate (30% from 2006 to 2010).
  • Vegetarian and other plant-based diets are positioned to steal the spotlight, as a required gluten-free diet represents only a small percentage of the population.
  • Currently the gluten-free market is estimated at $2.64 billion (as of 2010). This number is predicted to drop significantly in the oncoming years.
  • Only about 1 in every 133 Americans is affected by Celiac disease.

Source: Dr. Elizabeth Sloan of Sloan Trends, presentation at Research Chefs Association