Gluten-Free Perceived As Healthy For All

While only 11% of U.S. households follow a gluten-free diet, about one in four consumers feel that gluten-free is good for everyone, according to a new report from The NPD Group.  

NPD's research found that just 25% of those living in gluten-free households cite celiac disease or gluten sensitivity as the main reasons. Among the other reasons consumers cite for following a gluten-free diet are that it improves digestive health and eliminates toxins from the body.  

“There is clearly a segment of the population who avoids gluten for reasons other than gluten sensitivity or disease, providing a greater opportunity for food manufacturers and retailers,” says NPD food and beverage industry analyst Darren Seifer. “Food marketers should pay close to attention to all of the reasons for a gluten-free diet and connect the reasons with appropriate messages in order to better target your audiences.” 

However, marketers should also keep in mind that two downsides offset perceived gluten-free benefits to some extent: high costs and disappointing taste. The most-cited reason for choosing not to buy a gluten-free product is that it was too expensive, and half of gluten-free consumers said they may not be willing to sacrifice taste in order to keep maintaining a gluten-free diet.

Marketers should give careful consideration to how gluten-free products are priced in comparison with comparable foods containing gluten, and keep working on the taste factor, says Seifer.

"Gluten Free Bread" photo from Shutterstock.

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