NFCA Vice President Jennifer North breaks down the varying stats used to assess the growth of the gluten-free market.
By Jennifer North, NFCA Vice President
During Celiac Awareness Month, you will see a lot of statistics thrown around and you may notice that the size of the gluten-free marketplace isn’t always consistent.
Thanks to the market research firm, SPINS, we do have an accurate count of where the gluten-free industry stands today: a whopping $20 billion. We’ve certainly come a long way when it comes to the availability and affordability of gluten-free food.
With today’s technology that can track everything from the shoes we purchase to our movie preferences, it’s easier than ever before to understand consumer trends. What makes SPINS data reliable is that it’s based on scan data from register purchases from independent groceries, supermarkets and big box stores like Target and Walmart.
Even so, how can the numbers vary so much? Some estimates of the gluten-free marketplace are closer to $6 billion.
Many research firms spend their time collecting data using a wide variety of methods from surveys to company earnings reports. Each company has its own formula. What may account for some of the differences, though, could be the categories counted when calculating the numbers. For example, some calculations might exclude supplements (a $3.3 billion category, according to SPINS). Some may be correct for products like Frito’s and Chex, which are mainstream products labeled gluten-free, but certainly the bulk of people purchasing Frito’s are not buying them because of their gluten-free status.
While it’s valuable to understand the buying power of gluten-free consumers, the overall scale of the marketplace, as represented by the availability of products labeled gluten-free, is significant in that it demonstrates, in a tangible way, that those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are no longer on the fringes. We can walk into any supermarket or gas station minimart and find products that we know are safe.
When Alice Bast founded NFCA 10 years ago, she ordered her food by mail from Canada. Together, we’ve made great strides in exercising our consumer voice and creating demand for better, more accessible options. NFCA made a commitment to this endeavor very early on. We continue our commitment today to ensuring that gluten-free food is affordable, accessible, safe, tasty and understood.