The market for gluten-free products in 2016 globally was worth over four and a half billion dollars; this figure is almost set to triple in 2026. This data came out from the latest report by the British research institute “Visiongain”, which analyses worldwide trends, including in Italy.
In Italy, the gluten-free food sector is worth around 300 million euros, with an average annual growth rate of 30%.
Gluten-free foods are created to meet the needs of consumers diagnosed with celiac disease, according to the survey conducted by Federconsumatori in September 2016. The number of celiacs currently identified in Italy is 172,197, accounting for about 2% of the population. The Ministry of Health estimates that at least another 400,000 people are yet to be diagnosed.
Based on the market analysis edited by ICE, in the last few years, the free from products have recorded a very positive trend also in the German market.
According to a survey realised by Statista, in 2017, 3,49 millions of German consumers regularly bought lactose free products and 1,79 millions bought gluten free products.
In the last four years, sales of lactose free and gluten free products increased respectively 31,4% and 28,3%.
It is interesting to highlight that an ever-increasing number of consumers buy free from products based on food style and not on a diagnosed intolerance.
During 2017 edition of Gluten Free Expo and Lactose Free Expo, Mrs Antonietta Kelly, trade analyst of ICE agency of London, presented the potentiality of gluten and lactose free products in UK market. This market research shown that in these years, the free from market is constantly growing not only in Italy and abroad, but also in UK.
According to Kantar World Panel, in the first trimester of 2017, the 54% of the British population bought at least one gluten free or lactose free product, although only 5% needs it. It results that in 2017 more than 3,3 million people bought free from products and sales recorded a positive value, +36% compared to 2016.
Not only, a British consumer on four buys regularly gluten free products.
It is clear that for UK free from market the growth forecast is positive. Indeed, according to Mintel Global Market Research, for the next 4 years the products will increase
But gluten-free products are also purchased by so-called gluten-sensitive customers, individuals that have a particular sensitivity to gluten, even without being celiac. They represent a much larger percentage of the population than celiacs, although this is difficult to quantify. However, the main market driving gluten-free sales are consumers that chose gluten free foods as part of their life style, for personal convictions and food choices regardless of intolerance to this plant protein.
These are largely the same consumers who frequently buy different types of free-from food, as well as organic foods, supplements and so on. It seems clear that, compared to only a few years ago, there is a real change of options for the consumer. Many celiac and gluten sensitive individuals express satisfaction towards the increase of the variety and, in some sales outlets, the quantities of gluten free foods available. In fact, there are more and more companies that, encouraged by the exponential growth of consumption, produce “traditional” foods alongside a line of gluten-free products.
But even more surprising is the behaviour of the life styler, very attentive, informed and above all sensitive to their own well-being, to the point of choosing to buy foods for people with an intolerance in the belief that it is a healthier option. It is a phenomenon that, extended to the other categories of products belonging to the sphere of health / well-being, make this trend an attitude that can almost be defined as structural and no longer conjectural.