What comes after Gluten-Free? We have the answer.

February 19, 2014

Gluten-free move over, the GI diet is here.

As CPG companies and retailers continue to introduce and make room for more gluten-free products on store shelves, many are wondering “what comes next?” Registered Dietitians and physicians have been warning non-celiacs that going gluten-free may have unexpected side effects, in particular not getting enough fiber in their diets. We are also waiting for the price bubble to burst as shoppers begin to grimace over the higher cost of many gluten-free products. The reality is that those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease (less than 1% of the population) know what foods and ingredients to avoid; and that most of the gluten-free shoppers have opted-in the trend for the wrong reasons.

Gluten-free move over, the GI diet is here. A recent Mintel study found that around 86 percent of Americans have experienced some type of GI or digestive issue in the past year. That’s a huge market for OTC gastrointestinal remedies, one would think, but Mintel found that consumers are reluctant to use remedies, 38 percent only use them when absolutely necessary. Sales of antacids and laxatives declined by 2.5 percent from 2011 to 2013 and are expected to remain mostly flat through 2018.

Just because consumers aren’t using OTC remedies doesn’t mean they aren’t concerned about other issues that stem from the GI tract. In fact, some 40% of those who suffer from gastrointestinal issues are concerned about the side effects, like pain and having to change plans and work around their issues. Going gluten-free was the first step for many who thought they couldn’t stomach the protein, but gluten-free isn’t the panacea many thought it would be, and thus consumers are still searching for answers.

According to Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel, "American consumers appear to be taking a more proactive stance to their health and looking to prevent issues rather than treat them." She goes on to say that, "the prevalence of gastrointestinal issues suggests that the market of products to treat these issues is prime for growth.”

And changing diets indeed. Mintel also found that 29 percent of consumers say they have changed their diet to add more yogurt and fiber-rich foods to manage their digestive health and nearly a quarter have changed their diet to eliminate problem foods that aggravate digestive issues. Exercise (22%), weight loss (17%), and probiotics (13%) are also popular ways to manage GI troubles. 

What’s with yogurt and fiber? Yogurt contains the beneficial probiotics (bacteria) that can help with digestion, regularity, immunity, extracting more vitamins from our food and even making some.   Having a better bacteria balance in your gut can help cut GI troubles. Fiber is also great for gut health, soluble and insoluble, both playing their parts, creating bulk and acting like a broom, respectively.

The Lempert Report sees huge opportunity here, to help consumers improve gut health by marketing products that will contribute to overall health and wellbeing while easing their digestive troubles.