The Gluten-free Diet is Not a Fad

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?


22 thoughts on “The Gluten-free Diet is Not a Fad”

  1. I would certainly hope not, since I buy many gluten-free products. Of course, I make most of my food from scratch so I would live, but I love Chex and I love that people can make me puppy chow with rice Chex.

    If these options disappear, that just means less processed food for me.

  2. I would certainly hope not, since I buy many gluten-free products. Of course, I make most of my food from scratch so I would live, but I love Chex and I love that people can make me puppy chow with rice Chex.

    If these options disappear, that just means less processed food for me.

  3. I was diagnosed with celiac disease nearly four years ago. I was recently in a popular, cafe-style eatery and questioned the manager about the menu. He asked me, “Is your diet a choice or a necessity?” I informed him it is a necessity, and he was quick to be helpful. I hope the day comes when the gluten-free diet is NOT considered a fad, and I believe it is imperative to get as many people diagnosed as possible so food manufacturers and restaurants realize this is life-long for most. By the way, since I was diagnosed, five other members of my family and three friends have also been diagnosed.

  4. I was diagnosed with celiac disease nearly four years ago. I was recently in a popular, cafe-style eatery and questioned the manager about the menu. He asked me, “Is your diet a choice or a necessity?” I informed him it is a necessity, and he was quick to be helpful. I hope the day comes when the gluten-free diet is NOT considered a fad, and I believe it is imperative to get as many people diagnosed as possible so food manufacturers and restaurants realize this is life-long for most. By the way, since I was diagnosed, five other members of my family and three friends have also been diagnosed.

  5. If anything, I think the market will expand, as the next generation decides to follow a low gluten or gluten free lifestyle for general health reasons. My son and his wife have become GF since my diagnosis, simply because diagnostic testing is still unreliable and they do not want to take any chances. They are pregnant, and planning to raise a GF child. I also believe that a relationship between gluten and other autoimmune diseases (MS, lupus, etc) will eventually come to light as more research is done, causing many more people to consider a GF lifestyle.

    What we really need, however, is a government mandate requiring foods to be labeled as GF or containing gluten, not the entirely misleading “warnings” now put on food labels. If it says “processed in a facility that also processes wheat…” I can’t eat it, regardless of the ingredient list. I don’t mind reading labels and don’t need GLUTEN FREE plastered across the front of packaging. If that causes gluten consumers to bypass the product, I’d much rather have the label in small print on the back. But I should be able to find the information I need somewhere on the package and not have to guess what “seasonings” means.

  6. If anything, I think the market will expand, as the next generation decides to follow a low gluten or gluten free lifestyle for general health reasons. My son and his wife have become GF since my diagnosis, simply because diagnostic testing is still unreliable and they do not want to take any chances. They are pregnant, and planning to raise a GF child. I also believe that a relationship between gluten and other autoimmune diseases (MS, lupus, etc) will eventually come to light as more research is done, causing many more people to consider a GF lifestyle.

    What we really need, however, is a government mandate requiring foods to be labeled as GF or containing gluten, not the entirely misleading “warnings” now put on food labels. If it says “processed in a facility that also processes wheat…” I can’t eat it, regardless of the ingredient list. I don’t mind reading labels and don’t need GLUTEN FREE plastered across the front of packaging. If that causes gluten consumers to bypass the product, I’d much rather have the label in small print on the back. But I should be able to find the information I need somewhere on the package and not have to guess what “seasonings” means.

  7. Obviously, gluten-Free is not a fad for Celiacs. However, companies continue to make the products consumers buy. Recently, I’ve read a few articles in popular magazines regarding why going gluten-free is not healthly if you do not have Celiac. I am not debating this, but simply pointing out that those who are losing market shares (customers), will make efforts to get these gluten customers back.

    Gluten-free menus are so amazingly wonderful. As are gluten-free products at mainstream stores. And mainstream products only slightly changed (rice vinegar or malt) so Celiacs can eat it. I hope gluten-free continues as it seems for many Celiacs (my teenager), it is not only about food choices, but about belonging, understanding and social freedom.

  8. Obviously, gluten-Free is not a fad for Celiacs. However, companies continue to make the products consumers buy. Recently, I’ve read a few articles in popular magazines regarding why going gluten-free is not healthly if you do not have Celiac. I am not debating this, but simply pointing out that those who are losing market shares (customers), will make efforts to get these gluten customers back.

    Gluten-free menus are so amazingly wonderful. As are gluten-free products at mainstream stores. And mainstream products only slightly changed (rice vinegar or malt) so Celiacs can eat it. I hope gluten-free continues as it seems for many Celiacs (my teenager), it is not only about food choices, but about belonging, understanding and social freedom.

  9. Is this so called “expert” a celiac? If that person was, they wouldn’t be saying stupid things like its just a fad. Its hard enough finding gluten/wheat free food at the local supermarket. Every time I see anew product I grab it.
    Let this so called “expert” go to a celiac convention or just a support group and he/she will find out how ignorant he/she really is.

  10. Is this so called “expert” a celiac? If that person was, they wouldn’t be saying stupid things like its just a fad. Its hard enough finding gluten/wheat free food at the local supermarket. Every time I see anew product I grab it.
    Let this so called “expert” go to a celiac convention or just a support group and he/she will find out how ignorant he/she really is.

  11. Recently I had a waiter at a restaurant say “it’s such a craze isn’t it?” to which I responded: “for me, sadly,it’s a disease and I need to live with it”. I guess our only hope as Celiacs is for the continued education of the public. We are here, the need for food is permanent for us — so bring on the products — we will buy them with great gratitude!

  12. Recently I had a waiter at a restaurant say “it’s such a craze isn’t it?” to which I responded: “for me, sadly,it’s a disease and I need to live with it”. I guess our only hope as Celiacs is for the continued education of the public. We are here, the need for food is permanent for us — so bring on the products — we will buy them with great gratitude!

  13. One of the FACTS about people with Celiac or gluten intolerance is that we are being diagnosed in much greater numbers than in past DECADES. I work in a restaurant that offers a GF menu, and hear stories almost daily about how many years it took for the gluten answer to their symptoms.As doctors become more aware of the disease, its symptoms, means of diagnosis, greater nubers of people will become consumers. Supply and demand. Simple. It is important that management staff and employees of retailers and restaurants who offer GF products are educated as to what the condition is, and how imortant it is to be certain a product is if fact, GF. Not a fad, not a diet,…a medical necesity.

  14. One of the FACTS about people with Celiac or gluten intolerance is that we are being diagnosed in much greater numbers than in past DECADES. I work in a restaurant that offers a GF menu, and hear stories almost daily about how many years it took for the gluten answer to their symptoms.As doctors become more aware of the disease, its symptoms, means of diagnosis, greater nubers of people will become consumers. Supply and demand. Simple. It is important that management staff and employees of retailers and restaurants who offer GF products are educated as to what the condition is, and how imortant it is to be certain a product is if fact, GF. Not a fad, not a diet,…a medical necesity.

  15. The “expert” probably doesn’t understand the difference between a medically necessary diet and a fad. When people question the necessity of the diet, I have learned to tell them about the very debilitating symptoms, their longevity, and the minute quantity of gluten that it takes to trigger them. That’s when skeptics listen. It’s a serious situation for those who have Celiac Disease, and it’s a blessing that there’s more awareness. However, it’s frustrating that the labeling of foods is inconsistent; trying to navigate labels is extremely difficult. I’m grateful for the Grocery Guide and the Dining Guide, since they are produced from the perspective of the Celiac (who has much to lose if the information is wrong) rather than from the perspective of the marketer.

  16. The “expert” probably doesn’t understand the difference between a medically necessary diet and a fad. When people question the necessity of the diet, I have learned to tell them about the very debilitating symptoms, their longevity, and the minute quantity of gluten that it takes to trigger them. That’s when skeptics listen. It’s a serious situation for those who have Celiac Disease, and it’s a blessing that there’s more awareness. However, it’s frustrating that the labeling of foods is inconsistent; trying to navigate labels is extremely difficult. I’m grateful for the Grocery Guide and the Dining Guide, since they are produced from the perspective of the Celiac (who has much to lose if the information is wrong) rather than from the perspective of the marketer.

  17. I too am Celiac (diagnosed 6 years ago), and I have encountered a lot of cynicism about this “fad” diet. Since a lot of people don’t understand the seriousness of the Celiac (doctor’s diet) they presume it’s just a fad. I try to educate people of how serious this really is, and some listen with interest and others don’t care.
    I go to the Celiac seminar every year in October, and learn something new every time I go. For instance, last year I learned that if you don’t have Celiac and go on this diet that you should be tested before going on the diet, as it will cause “serious” problems if you go off the diet. I thank all the people who are committed to making life a little easier for people who have no “choice”. Thank you, and keep up the good work.

  18. I too am Celiac (diagnosed 6 years ago), and I have encountered a lot of cynicism about this “fad” diet. Since a lot of people don’t understand the seriousness of the Celiac (doctor’s diet) they presume it’s just a fad. I try to educate people of how serious this really is, and some listen with interest and others don’t care.
    I go to the Celiac seminar every year in October, and learn something new every time I go. For instance, last year I learned that if you don’t have Celiac and go on this diet that you should be tested before going on the diet, as it will cause “serious” problems if you go off the diet. I thank all the people who are committed to making life a little easier for people who have no “choice”. Thank you, and keep up the good work.

  19. Celiac is a disease like diabetes. Celiacs can’t properly deal with wheat. Diabetics can’t deal with sugar. The problem is the tiny amount of wheat does serious damage whereas a little bit of sugar won’t kill you. The wheat might. No one would say to a person who is avoiding sugar to treat his/her diabetes that they are part of a fad! It is hard for me to believe a waiter is taking me seriously when I ask questions about wheat or flour in the items the restaurant serves after my lunch mates finish with their vegan and Adkins questions.

  20. Celiac is a disease like diabetes. Celiacs can’t properly deal with wheat. Diabetics can’t deal with sugar. The problem is the tiny amount of wheat does serious damage whereas a little bit of sugar won’t kill you. The wheat might. No one would say to a person who is avoiding sugar to treat his/her diabetes that they are part of a fad! It is hard for me to believe a waiter is taking me seriously when I ask questions about wheat or flour in the items the restaurant serves after my lunch mates finish with their vegan and Adkins questions.

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