Gluten-free: Room for education and innovation

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Industry needs to focus on educating consumers and developing innovative gluten-free offerings, according to Frost & Sullivan
Industry needs to focus on educating consumers and developing innovative gluten-free offerings, according to Frost & Sullivan

Related tags Gluten-free diet Coeliac disease

The snowballing gluten-free trend holds extensive opportunities for ingredients firms but education and innovation is needed to secure the future of this segment, an industry expert has said.

The US is the globe’s largest gluten-free market, witnessing a threefold growth in the past five years and now twice as big as the lactose-free market, according to a new Frost & Sullivan report - Trends and Developments in the Gluten-free Food Ingredient Solutions Market.

Europe is second, with the UK, Switzerland and Germany representing significant markets within this region due to the high prevalence of coeliac disease and gluten-intolerance, it said.

Bakery makes up around 45% of the global gluten-free market with pasta, pizza and snacks other big categories, analysis showed.

Anjaneya Reddy, industry analyst for Chemicals, Materials and Foods at Frost & Sullivan, said that the market for gluten-free ingredients is in its growth stage.

“Gluten-free ingredients are not just a fad. It’s based on a need”,​ Reddy told "This trend has gained prominence over the past few years”.

However the report suggested that the market is restrained by “no considerable awareness among consumers about gluten intolerance or celiac disease”.

Education about coeliac disease and the benefits offered by gluten-free products is needed to ensure sustained growth in this sector, Reddy said.

Adding value and outlining the superior functions and nutritional properties of gluten-free products will “create impact in the market”,​ he added.

“Consumers won’t buy a product without knowing or seeing results for themselves. ​[They] will buy products due to a trend but they will soon move on to more innovative and superior products if they don’t know the significant of the products,”​ he detailed.

Frost & Sullivan suggested that industry investments in marketing activities and advertisements will educate consumers and thus aid growth.

Tasty innovations

There are also opportunities for innovation in the gluten-free sector, Reddy said.

“Ideally consumers want a similar taste profile in gluten-free products,”​ he said, and research and development (R&D) efforts should be focused here.

Frost & Sullivan outlined that the sensory properties of an end product play a “critical role”​ in further market penetration, and Reddy suggested that manufacturers should “source ingredients and formulate to improve organoleptic properties like colour, flavour and taste.”

Emergent openings

Gluten-free ingredients are predominantly used in developed countries, he said, but this trend will gain prominence in emerging markets.

“Every geographic presents a unique opportunity and potential,”​ Reddy said, and success will depend on company resources and expertise.

Data pinpointed Mexico and Brazil as two key ‘emerging’ gluten-free markets, with an array of new product launches in the latter.

Ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers need to offer superior and innovative ingredients or products in this country to differentiate themselves amid the influx of new product development (NPD), Reddy said.

India and China are flagged potential markets to tap in the future due to their sheer size, he said.

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