Expo West 2023: Opportunities in Gluten-Free

Gluten-free food and beverage products are outpacing traditional products in categories across the board, giving retailers an opportunity to enhance gluten-free private label offerings.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture
Scott Dicker SPINS
Scott Dicker, market insights director, SPINS

Gluten-free product sales are outpacing other category sales in the natural and better-for-you food space, according to speakers at Natural Products Expo West 2023.

In a presentation titled Consumer Trends & Growth Opportunities: What’s Next in Gluten-Free, experts detailed the state of gluten-free products, with several new product opportunities emerging within the category, giving private brands an opportunity to expand their offerings.

“Gluten-free has been a core attribute to the natural and specialty space really for the past couple decades, really leading the way in a lot of the allergen-friendly paths that we’ve seen,” Scott Dicker, market insights director at SPINS.

The market for gluten-free products, defined as products made without wheat proteins, was approximately $2.5 billion in 2010, growing to $5.9 billion in 2021. By 2032, the market is expected to reach roughly $14 billion, signaling strong, continued growth.

When it comes to price increases, gluten-free products are increasing at a lower rate of inflation than other better-for-you categories.

“All products are rising at a higher rate than the labeled gluten-free products,” said Dicker. “In the short-term, this still means that they are more expensive, and we’ve seen some people switching to larger sizes or private brands. But in the long-term impact, the ‘premium’ of gluten-free and some of these other natural products are really shrinking that price gap.”

Outside of the gluten-free staple categories like shelf-stable grains, breads and cereals, gluten-free products are expanding into categories such as alcohol, supplements, pet treats and more, as consumers continue to seek items that promote health and wellness. In several categories, gluten-free products are outpacing their unlabeled counterparts.


“People are looking for this gluten-free lifestyle beyond the food and beverages that they’re consuming,” Dicker added. “Certain attributes are table stakes. The consumers who are really dedicated to gluten-free are dedicated to their entire consumption being gluten-free.”

Using SPINS data, Dicker detailed categories that gluten-free items are growing in: In 2022, chips, pretzels and snacks saw an 11.8% increase in sales year-over-year compared to traditional products seeing a 2% increase.

Spirits saw a 57.9% increase in gluten-free sales, gluten-free pasta rose 11.2%, and frozen gluten-free breakfast items saw a 7.5% increase in sales compared to 2021. The largest increases came in the pre-workout/fitness supplement category, where gluten-free products saw a 172% sales increase, compared to a 25% increase for products containing gluten.

“We certified over 9,000 products in 2022,” said Jeanne Reid, marketing manager at Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), a gluten-free advocacy organization. “What’s happening now is there’s a state of growth in the gluten-free market. If you’re a retailer, know that the gluten-free consumer really wants that gluten-free section. And if you’re a manufacturer, know that they demand gluten-free products and that they ask the tough questions.”

While only 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, 13% of people have non-celiac sensitivity, providing a greater market for gluten-free items. Reid pointed to five trends that are presenting themselves within the gluten-free category: cooking & baking, comfort foods, plant-based, beverages and sustainability & social responsibility.

“People are back to cooking and baking, and that trend has not stopped,” said Reid. “We’re finding an increase in spices, seasonings and sauces. Consumer demand has driven a lot of innovation. Things like taste, texture, product size and nutrition."