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Gluten-free growth has shelf-life

By Nicholas Robinson+

17-Mar-2014
Last updated the 18-Mar-2014 at 10:57 GMT

Gluten-free bread has enjoyed rising popularity in recent years
Gluten-free bread has enjoyed rising popularity in recent years

The UK’s gluten-free (GF) market could mature in the next two years, following US statistics suggesting the market there has already started to slow.

Figures from Mintel showed that the GF market in the US would dip slightly in 2014 and had not grown beyond 20% in 2012 and in 2013. Some in the sector suggested the UK’s market is roughly two years behind the US’s, which could give companies in the UK an indication of what to expect.

“The US gluten-free market is dipping as it reaches maturity,” said Mintel senior global food and drink analyst Chris Brockman. But he said there was still some growth to come, just not at the levels of the last five or so years.

US market slowing

Simon Hazlett, UK md of GF brand Boulder Brands, however, said the UK and US GF market wouldn't slow. He said Boulder Brands had projected growth of 50% in the coming years. He pointed to recent figures from Mintel that showed the UK GF market had grown by 10% in 2013.

However, food trend forecasting company Culinary Tides in America claimed the US GF market was going to plateau this year and possibly decline by as much as 10% next year, as consumers would buy fewer GF products.

Culinary Tides president Suzy Badaracco, who is also a toxicologist, warned companies to track behavioural research, “because there are studies showing the bubble is popping and consumers who do not medically need the diet are abandoning the gluten-free diet”.

Expensive

US consumers, other than those suffering from coeliac disease, were turning away from GF foods because they were ‘expensive’ and fewer people believed they were beneficial to health, she claimed.

As the market turned towards those who must remain medically gluten-free long-term, growth rates are projected to drop to 10% in 2012–15 and 7% in 2016–17, she added.