Research from Ireland’s Bord Bía shows gluten-free demand is now firmly mainstream, with 20% of consumers shopping for food free from the grain-based protein.
With demand up, research showed consumers think there is poor availability of gluten-free food sauces and frozen foods – two areas on which meat producers could potentially capitalise.
Bord Bía’s consumer insight manager Paula Donoghue said celebrities such as actress Gwyneth Paltrow and pro tennis start Novak Djokovic, both of whom advocate gluten-free diets, have contributed to rising demand. Donoghue added the surge presented a “huge opportunity” for many players in the agri-food sector.
“Now is the time for food producers to increase availability as demand is there,” said Donoghue. “Consumers have high expectations around quality, so we recommend that companies work towards positioning products and brands that are natural and taste great, but just happen to be gluten-free.”
Gluten is not found in fresh meat or poultry – although a separate is debate on whether grain-fed meat is gluten-free is ongoing. Breaded or floured meat, when the coating is made with wheat, is not gluten-free. Also, meat that comes in a sauce, such as soy or teriyaki, is not suitable for someone looking to cut out gluten. Some sausages also have a high gluten content.
British sausage producer HECK has attracted considerable attention in the UK meat industry with its gourmet sausages that are also gluten-free. This suggests Irish meat producers could also see a demand for gluten-free sausages.
While Bord Bía’s research did not cover the niche gluten-free sausage market, findings show more than a third of Irish consumers (38%) who choose a gluten-free diet do not have an intolerance to wheat. They are choosing gluten-free as part of a push to live a healthier lifestyle.
Bord Bía could not be reached for comment on the opportunity for gluten-free meat products at the time of writing.