Gluten-free market increased 63 percent in two yearsA rise in gluten sensitivity and the perceived health benefits of a gluten-free diet have forced an explosion of gluten-free products onto store shelves. Because of this, sales of gluten-free food is projected to reach $8.8 billion in 2014, representing an increase of 63 percent from 2012-2014, according to consumer research group Mintel.

“Overall, the gluten-free food market continues to thrive off those who must maintain a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, as well as those who perceive gluten-free foods to be healthier or more natural,” says Amanda Topper, food analyst at Mintel. “The category will continue to grow in the near term, especially as FDA regulations make it easier for consumers to purchase gluten-free products and trust the manufacturers who make them. Despite strong growth over the last few years, there is still innovation opportunity, especially in food segments that typically contain gluten.”

Mintel researchers say the gluten-free snack food segment increased the most during the two-year period, posting 163 percent growth. The meat and meat alternatives segment was the segment with the second highest growth. Bread and cereal products grew 43 percent, though Mintel says this segment is ready for growth.

Mintel’s survey found that 33 percent of respondents in 2013 thought gluten-free diets were a fad. This number increased to 44 percent in 2014.