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The low down on Coeliac Disease and Gluten Free

In the UK you can’t seem to go for long without coming across gluten-free products, whether it’s eating out in a restaurant or trawling through the supermarket aisles. But what is interesting in why there is now an increase in gluten-free products on the market and who exactly is buying them?

Gluten related orders on the rise

Well, the main answer is that gluten-related disorders, such as coeliac disease are on the rise, with an estimated 5% of the population being sensitive to gluten. As a result this has naturally caused an increase for the demand of gluten-free products, as people now realise the effects that gluten can have on the human body.

In terms of coeliac disease it is a chronic disorder that affects the intestinal processes within the body, as well as the immune system where the body is unable to digest wheat, barley, rye and derivatives. Amazingly, an estimated 1-2% of the world’s population are affected by coeliac disease, but in many cases the symptoms go undiagnosed and untreated, which can cause long-term effects such as malnutrition.

There are also other gluten sensitivities that can cause similar symptoms such as bloating, weight loss, fatigue and abdominal pains when foods containing gluten are ingested. In addition to this, many people with digestion problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are also advised to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diets to aid digestion.

However, it seems it isn’t just those with diagnosed medical conditions that are now seeking solace in gluten-free products, as many non-gluten intolerant people are also cutting out gluten to aid with weight loss and general digestion.

A growing marketplace

All this has had a significant effect on the gluten-free market, with sales for gluten-free products rising by 63% between 2012 and 2014. In turn, the availability and variety in gluten-free products has increased no end. It is now possible to find huge diversity in gluten free products from gluten-free bread and pizzas to chocolate and snacks.

However, many of these products are only available from specialist retailers with many mainstream outfits being relatively unaware of the condition, as well as the rise in demand. Looking at the current gluten-free market, it’s clear to see that it isn’t just those with medical conditions seeking out gluten free produce. There are also a considerable number of gluten tolerant consumers making the switch to gluten-free alternatives. This could mean that many retailers may be missing a trick in terms of catering to their target consumers by not stocking a range of gluten free products.

To ensure that you are meeting the demands of your consumers, it could be time to embrace the gluten-free trend. As the number of gluten related disorders increases, it’s more and more likely that the need to supply a wider range of gluten and gluten-free products is inevitable.

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