By Laura (The Gluten-Free Traveller)

You may be finding more and more gluten-free products on grocery store shelves these days but just wait, there are a whole lot more coming your way. U.S sales of gluten-free products are expected to exceed $6.6 billion by 2017! That’s a whole lot of gluten-free food!

The “Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages in the US” report from Packaged Facts found that the gluten-free market has been growing at a much faster rate than anticipated and will reach $4.2 billion by the end of 2012. Over the last four years, 2008-2012, there has been a 28% increase in the production of gluten-free products. 15% of overall sales were in the snack and granola bar category.

So why such a huge increase in the demand for gluten-free products?

As well as increasing diagnosis rates of celiac disease and food allergies, there is also a growing awareness of these conditions amongst patients, doctors and the general population. The availability of more and better gluten-free products and friends and family choosing to eat gluten-free to support loved ones are also contributing to this fast expanding market.

Add to this the current gluten-free trend with celebrities and the general population going gluten-free for weight-loss purposes and you’ve got a huge percentage of the population eating gluten-free.

A consumer survey by Packaged Facts in August of this year showed that 18% of adults are now buying or consuming foods labeled as gluten-free. In October 2010 the figure was 15%.