Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsProducts

Gluten-free: More new products than ever

May 20, 2013|By Mary MacVean

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

“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:

Gluten-free expo: Highlights of the food

Want cake? Here are some gluten-free options

Going gluten-free more common, but not necessarily easier

mary.macvean@latimes.com

Twitter/@mmacvean

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|