At least for now, the gluten-free food trend is here to stay. In a few short years gluten-free products have penetrated retail shelves and become a potent force in the food industry with more manufacturers launching and embracing their own private label brands. According to a recent study from market researcher Packaged Facts, more than half of consumers have noticed a significant increase in the range of gluten-free products available at retail outlets in recent years. Almost a quarter of consumers make a point of shopping at stores with hefty selections of gluten-free products.
But retail isn’t the only place consumers are noticing a difference. The study revealed a noticeable parallel between a tendency to purchase gluten-free products when grocery shopping and the tendency to seek out these products when dining out. Approximately 15 percent of US consumers who purchased gluten-free foods in the past three months have also chosen a gluten-free menu item at a quick-service, fast-food, or takeout restaurant in the past six months, according to Packaged Facts’ survey. Approximately 20 percent have ordered a gluten-free option while dining at a sit-down restaurant.
Consumers most likely to choose gluten-free menu items in either retail or a restaurant are between the ages of 18 and 34 and have children in the home. Some 15 percent of restaurants serve gluten-free fare, a penetration rate that jumped seven-fold between 2010 and 2014, according to researchers. Gluten-free ranks second of the healthy menu terms analyzed by Packaged Facts, well ahead of other, more "traditional" attributes such as fat, sugar, calories, carbs, cholesterol.