Going Gluten Free?

The Lempert Report
March 05, 2019

You will spend more at the supermarket

There are more gluten-free foods on today’s supermarket shelves, and no doubt, more in the pipeline. Looking specifically at gluten-free foods, a 2018 UK study showed that some items cost on average 159% more than their conventional counterparts according to a report on the BBC.

For example: a bag of pretzel sticks are $3.00, gluten-free ones are $4.50; $2.50 for fresh sandwich bread is $4.50 for a frozen gluten-free loaf; and the $0.99 pasta as a gluten-free alternative is $4.50.

In 2012, researchers with the American Medical Association surveyed 1,643 caregivers of US children with food allergies – more than a quarter allergic to peanuts – and found that those parents spend an additional $4,184 per child annually.

Researchers concluded that treatment for the estimated 8% of US children with food allergies totaled nearly $25bn per year. Of that number, out-of-pocket medical costs (including co-payments to doctors, hospitals and medicines like epinephrine injections), as well as childcare and special diets, totaled $5.5bn.

Finnish researchers similarly estimated that the median annual cost incurred from food-allergy-specific spending on children was 3,182 euros ($3,600).

Dedicated facilities for free-from foods are often expensive to develop and maintain which is why the price is so high on the store shelves.

As well as not having the scale of manufacture that typically brings down costs.

And here’s one point of information that you probably never thought about. The National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers notes that a gluten-free loaf of bread may have more than 20 ingredients in its recipe, mostly to compensate for the lack of wheat. These ingredients cost two to three times that of an equivalent conventional loaf.