Moving on from Gluten Free

The Lempert Report
March 07, 2014

Going gluten-free may have unexpected side effects if you don't have Celiac Disease.

We all know that Gluten Free products have become trendy over the last few years. For those diagnosed with celiac disease (less than 1% of the population) the need for gluten-free speaks for itself, but many of the gluten-free shoppers are following the trend for the wrong reasons. To the point where 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.  So for retailers and CPG companies, who continue to stack the shelves with gluten-free products, the question remains, "what comes next?"

A recent Mintel study offers an answer to this question: the GI diet. The study found that around 86 percent of Americans have experienced some type of GI or digestive issue in the past year. Furthermore, 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. Going gluten-free was the first step for those who thought they couldn’t stomach the protein, but gluten-free hasn't provided the results many thought it would,  thus consumers are still searching for answers.

Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel says; "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.”

Data from the study also showed 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.

Why 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.

Looking at this study, The Lempert Report sees huge opportunity for retailers here. As we can see, consumers are looking to be proactive, not reactive, and are looking for guidance when it comes to improving gut health. Retailers would do well marketing products that contribute to overall health and well-being while easing their digestive troubles.