If celiac disease and wheat intolerance wasn’t high on your radar before, think about your current product mix and whether you’re offering enough options to satisfy demand. May is both Food Allergy Awareness Month and Celiac Disease Awareness Month.
In one of our recent MamboTrack surveys we discovered 1 in 3 natural and organic consumers shopped for allergy-free foods. Can you guess what was at the top of the list? Gluten-free items. In our study, 25% of respondents looked for gluten-free foods. Other common allergens trailed far behind with only 9% avoiding dairy, 6% avoiding soy, and 4% peanuts.
Unfortunately, avoiding gluten is tricky. Some gluten products are easy to spot. Items like bread, pasta, and croutons are obvious products. But foods such as sauces, marinades, processed meats, imitation seafood and broth often contain gluten, too.
People with celiac disease, for whom gluten avoidance is imperative, have to get good at reading labels. They stay away from wheat, rye, barley, kamut, einkorn, spelt, and triticale.
And if they’re being really careful, they have to avoid a whole list of other ingredients that only might be derived from grain — ingredients like modified food starch, malt vinegar, soy sauce, brown rice syrup and vegetable gum.
Still, who wants to give up pretzels, pizza, pasta and sandwiches? Not me, that’s for sure. These standbys are now being made with gluten-free recipes, so individuals with gluten intolerance can still enjoy their same old family favorites.
In fact, according to our survey, the top gluten-free products consumers wanted were bread (59%), cereal (56%), chips and snacks (54%), and pasta (46%).
Together, food allergies and celiac disease affect over 15 million Americans. You might pull in new dollars from customers currently buying their gluten-free items at specialty stores.
After all, 1 in 3 is quite a lot. Where are they getting their gluten-free products now?
(Photo credit: Emily Carlin)