My post for the Ministers of Design BlogSales of products with a gluten-free label have doubled in the past four years. Market research firm Nielsen estimated that sales of products with a gluten-free label have doubled in the past four years, rising from $11.5 billion to more than $23 billion. Marketing efforts have certainly played a role–Chobani Greek yogurt and Green Giant vegetables, for instance, added “gluten free” labels onto products that never contained gluten.
Survey data gathered by Packaged Facts in July and August of 2014 showed that more than a third of consumers said a gluten-free/wheat-free label claim is an important factor when they are shopping. A quarter of the survey respondents also said they had purchased or consumed food products labeled as gluten-free in the three months prior to the survey.
Packaged Facts estimates the market for gluten-free foods will exceed $2 billion in 2019.
Yet, less than 1 percent of the population has celiac disease. Approximately 6 percent are gluten intolerant, yet almost 30 percent of American adults are trying to avoid gluten. With Gwyneth Paltrow and Zooey Deschanel extolling the virtues of a grain-free lifestyle, it is no surprise the public is eating it up as the key to better health. It’s generally not. Consider that a Glutino Original New York Style Bagel has 26 percent more calories, 250 percent more fat, 43 percent more sodium, 50 percent less fiber and double the sugar of a Thomas’ Plain Bagel.
And then there’s the cost. The Glutino bagel costs 74 percent more than the Thomas’ bagel. Nabisco’s Gluten-Free Rice Thins cost 84 percent more per cracker than Nabisco’s Multigrain Wheat Thins. As one researcher put it, “The[se] foods can be significantly more expensive and are very trendy to eat, but we discovered a negligible difference when looking at their overall nutrition.”
So, will this gluten-free obsession ever crumble!? Girlswithgluten.com are working against the (gluten-free) grain to separate the wheat from the chaff. Their Instagram account is replete with girls gloriously indulging in all things doughy and delicious. Then there are others who tag themselves with the #hotgirlseatingpizza. About time somebody subvert America’s latest diet obsession and revel in utter gluten glory! Their clever t-shirt slogan “Free Gluten” should be able to bring this group some well-deserved bread.