Pizza and pasta, “everything” bagels, cake mixes, waffles, even beer, gum and pet food. The insatiable national appetite for gluten-free products is fueling a robust market for foods and drinks made without gluten.
Sales of gluten-free products increased 74 percent from 2004 to 2009, according to the Nielson Company, and are projected to grow from 15 to 25 percent a year. The gluten-free market is expected to reach some $2.6 billion in sales by 2012.
As Celiac Disease Awareness Month gets underway in May, that’s good news for the three million Americans who have celiac disease. Also called gluten intolerance, celiac disease is actually a genetic disorder that causes a constellation of symptoms like weight loss, stomach ailments and even malnutrition. The treatment is to eliminate all gluten from the diet, which means not just giving up foods made with flour, but also all the other products that contain gluten – beer, soy sauce and most cereals, for instance.