Chicago, IL—Since 2012, sales in the gluten-free (GF) food market have shot up 63%, according to a new report from Mintel called Gluten-Free Foods - US - September 2014. Yet a large number of consumers are skeptical of GF’s staying power, as the new report also found that 44% agreed with the statement, “gluten-free diets are a fad.”

“The category will continue to grow in the near term, especially as FDA regulations make it easier for consumers to purchase GF products and trust the manufacturers who make them,” Mintel food analyst Amanda Topper said in a statement. Topper said the market is thriving through the purchases of those who must seek out GF foods for medical reasons, and those who believe GF products to be healthier or more natural. Although the market has grown significantly, Topper said there are still opportunities for innovation and improvement.

The GF snacks segment saw the most growth in 2014, reaching sales of $2.8 billion. GF potato chips, in particular, have taken off in spectacular fashion, according to the report. Other fast-growing sub-divisions include GF meats/meat alternatives and bread/cereal products. Mintel noted that bread and cereal is an area to watch closely, as only 1% of overall sales in the bread and cereal market is currently devoted to GF.

The findings on consumer attitudes toward GF seem to contradict each other. The number of respondents in the “fad” camp grew by over 10% since last year’s survey. But, Mintel also found that 41% of the U.S. adults surveyed believe GF can be beneficial for everyone, not just those with specific health issues related to gluten. In addition, 22% of those surveyed said they follow a GF diet, up from 15% in 2013.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2015