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Why is the size of the North American gluten-free market is so hard to define?

How big is the Canadian gluten-free retail market? And how should we define it? Depends upon who you ask.

Markets and Markets defined the Canadian gluten-free market at $90.0MM for 2013. Packaged Facts suggests it is $550.0MM, Nielsen has it at $$$$ and GFCP suggests it may be closer to $8.7MM. One thing they all agree on is the growth continues to be double digit with no end in sight.

One of the greatest challenges with defining the market is how one sets the definition of gluten-free. From a regulatory standpoint in Canada, gluten-free is limited to products which have been specially formulated to replace wheat flours such as snacks, breads, cookies and does not include products that are naturally gluten-free such as bottled water or dairy based products (i.e. cheese, milk). The US market on the other hand can include these items, but does not include items such as meats and alcoholic beverages as they fall under a different set of legislation. This makes a marketers 10% rule less applicable in the gluten-free market.

GFCP continues to monitor and is trying to narrow down the definition as it currently stands and provide some insights into how gluten-free is being seen as one of the broader sets of claims associated with ‘natural’ or healthier foods.

“I see manufacturers are thinking there is an opportunity to tap into several markets, soy-free, diary-free, gluten-free, as well as natural or non-GMO, or organic. When you consider the “Free-From” product claims it is interesting that the gluten-free opportunity is actually one of the only ‘allergen claims’ that has a specific diet attached to It perhaps this is part of its allure and success. One thing the research in North America supports is that Canadians are more dedicated to the diet and medical rather than celebrity endorsements are fueling their commitment to all the newly introduced gluten-free brands.” Tricia Ryan VP Marketing GFCP

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