Products positioned on a gluten-free platform accounted for 10 per cent of total global food and drinks launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in the 12 months to the end of April 2015, rising to more than 18 per cent in the US.
Key areas for activity in recent years have been in bakery and cereal products and snack foods, largely because of rising demand for alternatives to the relatively high number of gluten-containing lines in these sectors, or because of the availability of alternative gluten-free ingredients.
The cereal products market, encompassing breakfast cereals and cereal bars, is relatively well set up to cater to the gluten-free trend, with numerous non-gluten cereal options already available. As a result of this and the relatively concentrated nature of the market, it’s perhaps not surprising that the share of gluten-free launches in the cereals market is much higher than the average of the food and drinks market as a whole, at 21 per cent, rising to 43 per cent in the US.
Interestingly, despite being one of the product categories most strongly associated with wheat, and thus gluten, the bakery products sector has a slightly lower than average share of gluten-free launches recorded, at nine per cent, perhaps partly reflecting the diversity of the sector and the high levels of new product activity overall.
The actual number of gluten-free bakery launches has nonetheless risen consistently in recent years. Biscuits account for the largest number of gluten-free bakery launches, with more than 40 per cent, equivalent to eight per cent of total biscuit introductions, while bread has less than 16 per cent of gluten-free bakery launches, but this is equivalent to nine per cent of total bread introductions.
The snack market is also seeing a relatively high proportion of launches featuring gluten-free claims, averaging 13 per cent globally, but rising to more than 42 per cent in the US.
In terms of product and market development, the snacks market benefits particularly from the fact that many basic snack ingredients, such as potatoes, corn, soy and nuts, are naturally gluten free, making the claim relatively easy to achieve in many instances.
Ingredients used to replace wheat or other cereals and offer a gluten-free formulation over the past few years have included lentils, black beans, navy beans, cassava, brown rice, nuts, sweet potatoes and a wide variety of other vegetables.