The demand for gluten-free products amongst modern consumers remains high, with the market valued at $5.9 billion in 2021 and expected to see a compound annual growth rate of almost 10% between 2022 and 2030.
Gluten-free products are essential to the daily lives of 1 in 133 Americans with celiac disease, though these consumers don’t fully explain such market growth.
A few additional factors go some way to demonstrating why the market for gluten-free products continues to expand, such as figures suggesting that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may affect as much as 13% of the global population. Still, good marketing and PR could also play an important role.
Recent research suggests as many as 38% of adults aged 18-24, and 30% between 25-34, claim to be interested in exploring gluten-free products regardless of their medical status, indicating a sizable demand for gluten-free foods amongst younger consumers. Naturally, e-commerce retailers looking to sell food products online are well-positioned to capitalize on this consumer base, especially when observing key market trends.
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Increasing food literacy
Increasing government and social campaigns highlighting the importance of a balanced diet and the negative impacts of artificial food additives make modern consumers more likely to scrutinize ingredient lists. One study suggests that almost two-thirds of consumers actively seek foods labeled as organic, natural, fresh, or made from clean produce.
This is often reflected in the marketing strategies of gluten-free products and e-commerce companies, with terms such as “free from” and “clean ingredients” often used to signify that certain products could be far healthier than consumers may expect. A prime example is Safe + Fair, with everything from the company’s name to its “clean label” branding acting to uphold a healthy image.
This is backed up by health-forward, allergen, and gluten-free versions of popular snack foods, with items like sea salt popcorn and pea protein chips representing cleaner alternatives to addictive junk food. We can expect this trend to continue in the gluten-free e-commerce market.
Combined dietary trends
Tangentially linked to this observed rise in food literacy amongst e-commerce consumers, research suggests that interest in the health benefits gleaned from a gluten-free diet may have contributed to more growth than we would commonly expect from similar dietary trends. One reason for this could be that gluten-free foods and ingredients must follow some related diet trends effectively.
A recent study by the International Food Information Council found that the popularity of gluten-free foods amongst respondents was second only to plant-based foods, with 9% following a gluten-free diet compared to 7% and 6% observing keto/high-fat diets and low-carb diets, respectively.
Interestingly, the same study found the most commonly reported dietary trend to be labeled as clean eating, with 16% of respondents claiming this to describe their eating habits best. This is likely because plant-based and allergen-free diets can all fall under this label.
As most gluten-free foods' manufacturing process involves removing carbohydrates from base ingredients like flour, these foods are ideal for followers of low-carb and keto diets. In addition, gluten-free e-commerce suppliers can capitalize on the growing popularity of plant-based foods by producing gluten-free alternatives to popular snacks using plant-based recipes and ingredients.
The future of the gluten-free market
The continued demand for gluten-free products is expected to remain high due to younger consumers choosing these foods regardless of pre-diagnosed medical conditions. This is reflected in data showing that the overall market for gluten-free foods is expected to be worth over $7 billion by the end of 2023, increasing from an estimated value of $6.26 billion observed in 2022.
It’s projected that alongside gluten-free base ingredients like grains and flours, bakery and snack products will see considerable growth in the coming years, with industry insiders claiming they expect a rise in younger consumers gaining buying power to influence gluten-free bakery product growth.
Further evidence that e-commerce suppliers should continue to explore gluten-free products can be seen in a rise in applications for gluten-free certification. Recent data published by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) shows that over 9000 new products from over 800 global brands were certified during 2022, representing an increase of over 7200 products compared to 2021.
This considerable rise in available gluten-free products helps to illustrate exactly how the growing global demand for clean, healthy, and “free-from” foods is continuing to affect consumer markets. Food e-commerce retailers offering gluten-free products can expect demand to remain high if these metrics continue to grow, with expansions into related clean-eating products seeming to be a wise investment.