- Gluten-free food sales may have peaked, but those sales won't necessarily decline from here, per a recent Packaged Facts report.
- The segment is expected to post $1.328 billion in sales this year, a 6% increase year over year. That's still a significant slowdown from the 86% sales bump the segment saw in 2013.
- The report attributes the slowdown to consumers' changing perceptions of gluten-free foods. That includes declines in the percentage of consumers who eat gluten-free foods for weight loss benefits or who believe gluten-free products are inherently of higher quality.
As with many other segments, gluten-free product manufacturers should focus on ingredients and health-centric label claims to sustain category growth. It's not enough to rely on the gluten-free claim anymore, especially as research and experts discredit previous assumptions about gluten-free products and their benefits.
Instead, gluten-free product makers may consider enhancing label claims through functional ingredients like protein, probiotics or healthy fats. This can help brands counteract changing perceptions of gluten-free foods and provide additional value-added properties while staying on-trend.
Those efforts aside, the gluten-free industry may have officially reached a saturation point. Brands certainly want to keep expanding the market, but if consumer demand is waning, gluten-free may eventually be deemed a fad rather than a foundational shift in the industry, such as "natural" products. It may not be worth the investment for manufacturers to continue trying to expand an ultimately contracting category.