CHICAGO — The percentage of adults in the United States who say they want to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diets reached a new high this January, according to a new study.
The NPD Group, a market research firm, has tracked efforts by Americans to reduce gluten intake since 2009, finding that 30% of adults claimed to cut down on gluten or avoid it entirely in January.
"For as long as NPD has been tracking the eating habits of Americans, which is since 1976, they have been expressing a desire to eat healthier foods and beverages," NPD chief industry analyst and author of "Eating Patterns in America" Harry Balzer said. "It's not that we want health and wellness more but that we are constantly changing how we address health and wellness. A generation ago, health was about avoiding fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium in our diet. While these desires still exist for many, they no longer are growing concerns. Today, increasingly more of us want to avoid gluten in our diet, and right now, it is nearly 30% of the adult population — and it's growing. This is the health issue of the day."
Though it appeared that the anti-gluten trend had run its course as recently as 2011, it appears more Americans have started to say they would like to cut back or avoid it in their diet, and interest in gluten-free menu items at restaurants is also growing.
Source: The NPD Group/Dieting Monitor, 52 week data year ending January 30, 2013
"The number of U.S. adults who say they are cutting down on or avoiding gluten is too large for restaurant operators to ignore," NPD restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs said. "Restaurant operators and marketers can find opportunities to address consumer needs when it comes to their growing interest in cutting down on or avoiding gluten, like training staff to accurately answer customer questions, using symbols on menus and menu board to highlight items that are gluten-free, as a way to extend consumer awareness and confidence in ordering."