As mainstream media continues to focus on the benefits of “no gluten,” gluten-free foods exert the greatest market influence, with sales reaching $3.4 billion in 2011—a 23 percent increase over 2010, according to Schaumberg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS. Notably, $2.6 billion of that total came from the conventional channel.
The proliferation of “free from” labels makes it easier for shoppers to identify safe products for those who cannot eat gluten, nuts, soy, dairy or other common allergens. Yet, as is the case for all food, taste remains paramount to success. The most popular allergen-free foods combine easy-to-decipher free-from labeling with excellent flavor and other value-added attributes, such as vegan or raw formulations. The allergen-free snack food category—particularly chips and crackers—now contains myriad options that taste as good as traditional offerings.