Who could have imagined a year ago that Gluten-Free products would top the popularity charts. This is not a trend but a reality of marketing. G-F products, of course, are needed by those with celiac disease but have become a preferred choice for many other individuals who recognize how much better they feel when they eliminate the flours that cause distress. Grocers, restaurants, big chains, and even small cafes have figured out how they can capture some of this market.
The Bloomberg Businessweek issue for August 15-28 has a great cover shot for the “Popularity Issue” and inside awards its top spot to the Gluten-Free Diet which they say is being driven by those with celiac disease and the 15% of consumers who purchase these products and “help create a $2.6 billion market.” What has happened has occurred with an ease that often does not accompany most product rollouts which can be slow and focused on test markets. Now, big name manufacturers are vying for space alongside the stalwart G-F leaders such as Bob’s Red Mill and Udi’s. When you see 2 loaves of Rudi’s G-F multigrain bread at Costco you see a sea change, and a price drop. Let’s see, 2 loaves at the big box for about half the cost of a single one at the regular store!
The race is on.
More grocers are demonstrating their understanding of the growing numbers by integrating the G-F product line rather than isolating it into a small corner of the store. Sure shelves are often still marked with flip signs indicating a G-F product, but even that has somewhat lessened as consumers recognize the product labeling with the GF symbol. We’ve talked plenty about how obvious products are now quick to boast of their new popularity status. Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce remains my best go-to example, but the Chex family should not get excluded from their big bold banners. Wait, now Rice Krispies has the bold banner.
If you think you’ve seen a lot of GF products at the grocers and been passed GF restaurant menus, you’ve barely scraped the surface. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this impressive marketing action?
Not a trend, but a lifestyle choice with a wide arena for traditional companies to make the jump into the G-F universe! Expect to see more such gotcha labels.