Everyone knows that American Food companies tend to follow the latest diet trends, so it’s no surprise that gluten-free product releases have risen substantially over the last two years. In fact, there are so many products rolling out that it’s hard to keep up with them all. As with any market, most companies are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon to make money, as well they should. Also, with any market, some companies are in it for the long haul and others are in it only as long as they are making the amount of money they deem necessary to stay in the game.
In the world of food manufacturing, most companies rely on “experts” to tell them what the trends are for grocery shoppers. For quite a while now, the gluten-free market has been the fastest growing segment of the food industry – growing an average of 28 percent per year since 2004. As with anything on a roll, it either slows down or in some cases – comes to a stop. Think about the Atkins craze from several years back. There are only so many gluten-free consumers and if every company is competing for their business, there is less money to be made by each one. Therefore, the market might be starting to correct itself, just a bit.
Some companies are learning that putting “gluten-free” on the front of a package might not be the best idea. At least, it’s not a good idea if they are also trying to market the product to mainstream consumers. I’d be happy to see Chex cereals move “gluten-free” to the back of the box if it means more gluten consumers will buy them. The Strawberry Chex cereal was discontinued about as fast as it was introduced, due to “lack of interest”. According to General Mills, there are no plans to discontinue the other gluten-free Chex cereals presently.
Someone recently sent me a very interesting online article that I hope people will take the time to read in full here. Basically, someone quoted in the article states that the gluten-free market might be a house of cards just waiting to fall. Yes – that is what this trend forecaster “expert” says. I really wanted to see how others felt about the article and Nancy Lapid at About.com has an interesting perspective on the situation. While it’s doubtful that the gluten-free market is about to fall like a house of cards, companies listening to the advice of this trend forecaster might jump out of the gluten-free market shortly after they’ve entered it – or they might not jump in at all. That is not good news for any of us.
We have come so far in the four short years that I’ve been gluten-free that I can hardly believe how great things are for the gluten-free set. People that live in larger cities still have many more choices than those in smaller communities, of course. Cities offer more gluten-free dining options as well. However, online ordering makes it possible for everyone to buy exceptional gluten-free products and prices continue to come down. That trend can continue as long as there is enough competition in the market to keep companies from getting greedy. In some cases, gluten-free products do not cost more than gluten products. Examples of this are some soups from Progresso and yogurts from Yoplait. Both of those lines are owned by General Mills.
Let us know what you think about the “expert” opinion of this trend forecaster by leaving a comment below. Do you think the gluten-free market is about to dissolve as quickly as it surfaced?