A couple of years ago, you could only find gluten-free products in shops dedicated to organic health. Today, you can find them in their own aisles in supermarkets across the UK with a huge variety of choice on offer.

The reason is simple – more and more consumers are adopting healthy diets and foods that are free of gluten and which now dominate their grocery shopping lists. Most people are now actively avoiding food that they are intolerant or allergic to. Needless to say, food brands have to get on that bandwagon if they wish to remain competitive and retain customers.

In the UK, the market growth of gluten-free products is increasing at a rapid pace. The main drive is an increase of awareness of food allergies and the necessity of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Today, the market is valued at about £740 million. It experienced a 27% increase in 2016 alone and today, GF products account for nearly 60% of the market.

Branded GF products are emerging as this awareness spreads through the food industry in the UK. Several businesses have expanded into this market. Over £6 million alone are spent on bakery items that are gluten free. A great example is the company “Chefs Promise” which launched in 2016. As the growing market emerged they understood the struggle of finding gluten free alternatives to food and ingredients that didn’t compromise on taste or quality. They launched a range of gluten free baking products and meal components and have seen a huge rise in success as the GF market continues to grow.

In other words, health for most people in the UK is more about a balanced diet rather than calorie counts and diets. In addition, a rise in food sensitivity in households is also driving market growth of GF foods in the nation and the numbers will only increase. Most people just avoid food they have an intolerance for.

Who is the gluten-free consumer?

The gluten-free consumer is anyone who has to follow a strict, healthy diet. The main ones include those who suffer from diseases that can get aggravated with this ingredient or lead to complications. For instance, there is no treatment for Celiac disease except a diet that is free of gluten.

What is important is that products that do not have this ingredient have a wide consumer base which is only getting wider. That’s because these are purchased by not only those who are sensitive to gluten, but also those who have say wheat allergies, ADHD, IBS and autism. It is also possible to be allergic to this component even if you don’t have CD or these conditions.

Besides Celiac disease, a growing number of cases involving wheat allergies have also increased the demand for products that are gluten free. According to certain estimates, 6% of children and about 4% of grown adults suffer from this. According to a 2008 report, those allergies have increased by about 18% since 1997.

The same is the case for gluten-free food. More and more restaurants are revamping their menus cater to an increasing number of diet conscious diners. Similarly, food brands are trying to keep up with the demand by not only revamping manufacturing processes but also by redesigning their stores. In other words, what was once a niche industry for a small portion of the population is now a booming market that is worth billions.

This is based on fact. In 2014 alone, the anti-gluten consumer spent about $8 billion on these products which is a more than 60% hike from 2012. The reason lies in the fact that there has been a massive increase in vegans and consumers who are extra conscious about what they put in their bodies.

How food brands can catch up

The good news is that even products that are free of gluten appeal to a wide range of consumers and even those who have discerning tastes. Just swapping unhealthy ingredients with healthier counterparts such as vegetables and legumes can result in a variety of options that can cater to a diet-conscious population.

This includes products that are not only healthy, but which can taste as good as the original. The result will be better profits and a loyal clientele that is more likely to recommend your brand to others. A healthy clientele is a happier clientele after all.

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