The Gluten-Free Opportunity in Adult Beverages

Source: Technomic Blog

Is gluten-free the new skinny? As celebrities from Lady Gaga to Andy Murray and many everyday Americans eschew gluten, numerous food and beverage producers are touting their products’ gluten-free status or rolling out items sans the gluey protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Adult beverage producers are no exception.

The gluten-free opportunity is an interesting one. While approximately one in 133 Americans has celiac disease, a hypersensitivity to gluten that can damage the small intestine and cause myriad health issues, it’s estimated that many are undiagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health and the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. In addition, as many as 10 percent of Americans are estimated to suffer from some form of gluten sensitivity. As understanding of these conditions has growth, more gluten-free products have emerged.

Gluten-free spirits and beers are increasing in number and visibility as marketers and also restaurant and retail operators seek another point of differentiation in an ever more-competitive marketplace. In 2012, two beers, a cider and a vodka came onto the market touting gluten-free attributes (Dogfish Head Tweason Ale, Widmer Brothers Omission, Michelob Ultra Light Cider and Vixen Vodka). Earlier this year, gluten-free Crater Lake Sweet Ginger Vodka arrived on the scene, and just last week Devotion Vodka added Wild Cherry and Coconut to its line of sugar- and gluten-free flavored vodkas. With the advent of craft brewers entering the gluten-free fray, the consumer media are highlighting gluten-free beers that “actually taste good.”

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