Gut instinct

This week marks Coeliac Awareness Week, with Coeliac UK raising awareness for the one in 100 people diagnosed with coeliac disease and the suspected 500,000 undiagnosed sufferers across the UK.

In support of the campaign, Udi’s Gluten Free carried out research to gauge awareness of intolerances in the UK. The findings reveal that:

  • Three in ten Brits believe gluten is a carbohydrate found in potatoes, pasta and pizza
  • 91 per cent say they know what coeliac is, yet two thirds of those don’t know the symptoms
  • Nine per cent of young adults think Coeliac is a famous Italian restaurant
  • One in ten do not realise pasta is not suitable for those with coeliac disease and the same have no idea that beer can contain gluten.

The research also revealed that more than one in ten (11 per cent) have switched to a gluten-free diet, with 29 per cent of the 18-24 age group reporting cutting gluten out of their diet.

Leatherhead Food Research has previously released research showing that “it’s not necessarily consumers with food allergies who are driving this demand, but those who are voluntarily cutting out ingredients and making changes to their diets.”

With just under a half (41 per cent) of the UK feeling sorry for those living a gluten-free diet, Holly Wales, product development director at Udi’s Gluten Free, says, “People who are coeliac or are leading a gluten-free life don’t want to be felt sorry for; they want to feel normal and eat free-from foods where they don’t have to compromise on taste.”

Indeed, I receive daily press releases about new gluten-free products or ingredient launches which promise the same mouth feel, taste and texture as those including gluten – and my recent visits to the likes of Health Ingredients Europe, IFE and Natural & Organic Products Europe have all thrown up several gluten-free offerings.

Last week’s Vitafoods exhibition, which took place 5-7 May in Geneva, Switzerland, again played host to several gluten-free ranges, such as Glanbia’s gluten-free oat shot drink Champion’s Choice, gluten-free granola bar prototype Glory Bar and its HarvestPro crisps, a gluten-free alternative to soy equivalents; Ingredion’s newly launched range of naturally gluten-free Vitessence pulse proteins; and US Greens’ gluten-free vegan powders.

If your company is not one of the many already tapping into the demand for gluten-free products, Coeliac Awareness Week provides a perfect opportunity to consider the benefits of doing so. After all, figures show that the gluten-free, dairy-free and free-from foods sector has seen a growth of 32 per cent in estimated retail value to £303 million in the UK, with value predicted to reach £519 million by 2016 (Mintel).

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