As the national Charity for people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), Coeliac UK has worked alongside retailers and manufacturers for many years to understand and meet the incredible growth in demand for gluten-free products.
1 in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease and we are currently seeing around 1200 new Members joining every month who depend on gluten-free food to manage their condition. And with half a million people in the UK still to be diagnosed with coeliac disease and a growing consumer segment who choose gluten-free food for health and lifestyle reasons, it’s understandable why manufacturers and retailers are embracing this increased demand.
According to Mintel, the Free From market is forecast to reach £500m by 2017, with gluten-free accounting for 47% of the Free From market and 9% of adults in the UK avoiding gluten either due to coeliac disease or as part of a lifestyle choice.
While the demand for gluten-free products continues to grow, it may be a surprise to some that widespread availability of gluten-free products is still an issue. From a survey we conducted, 74% of Coeliac UK Members said they needed to visit more than one supermarket to complete their shopping. The launch of our Gluten-free Guarantee (GfG) earlier this year is designed to help supermarkets address this issue by agreeing to stock a core basket of eight staple gluten-free items in all their stores no matter the size of the store.
Asda’s commitment to the GfG in September, and Waitrose, Tesco and Marks & Spencer’s significant progress in achieving GfG status, is a positive move in this direction and will hopefully lead to increased product innovation and players in the market.
While product availability is critical, trust and confidence in the product itself is also essential. The Crossed Grain symbol is an internationally recognised trademark which is used by consumers as a shortcut to recognising products that can be trusted. The growth of the trademark (owned and licensed by Coeliac UK) in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe is a testament to the growth of the market in general but also the need for consumer reassurance in this category in particular. 77% of Coeliac UK Members are more likely to buy a product with Crossed Grain symbol certification compared to a product that has not been certified by the Charity (Member Survey 2014).