When our intern, Charlotte, was first diagnosed with a gluten intolerance eight years ago, gluten-free bread, cookies and snack bars did not exist. “I remember having to pass on my favorite foods, like stuffing at Thanksgiving and cookies at Christmas.” While the US is late to adopt gluten-free policies like in Italy, Canada, Argentina and other countries around the world, our food and dining industries are quickly jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon.
Now, the gluten-free market is booming. In 2013, U.S. sales reached $10 billion, according to Mintel. Gluten-free foods are expected to create a $15.6 billion market by the end of 2016. The food and beverage industry has responded by offering more gluten-free options in restaurants, bars and on shelves. You can now order a gluten-free Domino’s pizza, gluten-free Girl Scout cookies and some breweries even offer gluten-free beer.
Charlotte relies on apps like Find Me Gluten Free and Gluten Free Fast Food to point her in the direction of local gluten-free cuisine. Did you know Chick-Fil-A’s waffle fries, Taco Bell’s Mexican rice and McDonald’s beef patty (without the bun) are all gluten free?
Our gluten-free Account Manager, Emily Rundles’ go-to app is Yelp. She researches and bookmarks new restaurants that serve gluten-free fare, so she can remember them for later. “You can search pretty much any category of food with ‘gluten-free’ after it,” she says.
“What’s even better than finding gluten-free food is being able to sample a bunch of gluten-free food all under one roof,” Charlotte said, after her and Emily both attended the Incredible Edible Gluten-Free Food Fair this past weekend at Denver Mart. Kinnikinnick’s cookies, Glutino’s pretzels and Rudi’s spinach tortillas topped Charlotte’s list. Emily was pleasantly surprised by Boulder’s Etalia Foods’ gluten-free bread. “It was the best bread I’ve had since I’ve been on a gluten-free diet.” Etalia offers true Italian bread options that are missing in the market, including ciabatta bread, pizza dough and Emily’s favorite, a rustic boule, “the kind of bread you see at whole foods, but wouldn’t dare go near, for fear of a moment of weakness and eating the entire loaf.”
Many restaurants and brands are getting creative with their gluten-free offerings, as the trend continues to soar. Those who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon quite yet should consider putting gluten-free options on their shelves or menus, because they soon will be left in the dust (almond flour dust, that is).
We’re left wondering why grocery stores don’t make the GF-UX easier by designating 1-2 aisles exclusively? That would be a definitive reason to choose them over the competition for sure.
Post by: Charlotte Letson, Social Media Intern, and Emily Rundles, Account Manager