Opinion

Growing Demand for Gluten-Free Confectionery Leads to Market Expansion

Published Mar 11, 2024
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The gluten-free confectionery industry has emerged as a prominent segment within the broader food and beverage market, catering to individuals with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and those adopting gluten-free diets for health or lifestyle reasons. This sector has experienced substantial growth, with the global market projected to reach USD 3.44 billion by 2023, with a forecasted CAGR of 7.6% until 2032. Manufacturers have responded to increasing demand by innovating a wide range of gluten-free confectionery products.

The gluten-free industry has emerged as a prominent sector within the broader food and beverage market, catering to individuals with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, and those choosing to adopt a gluten-free diet for health or lifestyle reasons. Within the gluten-free industry, confectionery stands out as a prominent and highly sought-after product category. Confectionery encompasses a wide range of sweet treats, including candies, chocolates, gummies, marshmallows, and more, all of which traditionally contain gluten due to ingredients like wheat flour. However, with the growing demand for gluten-free options, manufacturers have responded by developing innovative and delicious gluten-free confectionery products to cater to individuals with dietary restrictions and lifestyle preferences.

In recent years, the gluten-free confectionery sector has grown substantially, with its global market expanding to USD 3.2 billion in 2022 and expected to reach USD 3.44 billion by 2023. Forecasts suggest that this upward trend will persist until 2032 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6%, with the industry expected to soar to $6.66 billion by 2032.

Figure 1. Gluten-Free Confectionery Industry from 2022 to 2032

Source: Allied Market Research

The gluten-free confectionery market is currently experiencing remarkable growth on a global scale. In terms of market share distribution, North America stands out with a substantial 35% share, showcasing its dominance in this sector. Following closely , Europe holds a significant portion of the market at 30%, reflecting its strong presence and growing demand for gluten-free products. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 20% of the market share, indicating a rising trend in gluten-free consumption in this region. South America holds a 10% share, while the Middle East and Africa contribute 5% to the market, illustrating a growing awareness and adoption of gluten-free options in these regions. This distribution highlights the widespread appeal and increasing popularity of gluten-free confectionery products across diverse geographical regions.

Figure 2. Gluten-Free Production Regions Market Share

Source: Markets and Markets

Market Segmentation

Producers are enhancing production methods across various product segments to address the increasing demand for gluten-free confectionery. Segmentation of gluten-free confectionery products entails categorizing these items according to factors like consumer preferences, dietary requirements, and ingredients. Below are some typical segmentation approaches for gluten-free confectionery products:

Ingredient-based segmentation:

  • Grain-Free: Products made without any grains containing gluten, such as wheat, barley, rye, or oats. Instead, they may use alternative flour types like almond flour, coconut flour, or tapioca flour.
  • Nut-Based: Confectionery items that rely on nuts as a primary ingredient, such as almond cookies, peanut butter cups, or cashew brittle.
  • Fruit-Based: Products featuring dried or fresh fruits as the main component, like fruit leather, dried fruit candies, or fruit-flavored gummies.
  • Legume-Based: Confections made with legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, or beans, which provide protein and fiber while being gluten-free.
  • Chocolate: Segmenting based on the type of chocolate used, such as dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate, all of which can be gluten-free if processed properly.

Health and dietary preference segmentation:

  • Paleo-Friendly: Products suitable for the paleo diet, which emphasizes whole foods and excludes grains, dairy, and processed ingredients.
  • Keto-Friendly: Confectionery items with low carbohydrate content suitable for ketogenic diets, often using sugar substitutes like erythritol or stevia.
  • Vegan: Products made without animal-derived ingredients, appealing to consumers following a vegan lifestyle.
  • Organic and Natural: Confections made with organic ingredients and free from artificial additives, appealing to consumers seeking healthier options.
  • Low-Sugar or Sugar-Free: Products formulated with reduced or no added sugars, suitable for consumers watching their sugar intake.

In each of the above mentioned segments, an extensive variety of gluten-free confectionery products are crafted to satisfy diverse tastes and preferences. Some of the product types include:

Gluten-Free Cookies and Biscuits: Gluten-free cookies and biscuits provide a variety of tastes and textures, suitable for snacking or dessert enjoyment. They are made from a blend of ingredients such as almond flour, coconut flour, gluten-free oats, tapioca flour, rice flour, chickpea flour, natural sweeteners, eggs, butter, or dairy-free alternatives. With added flavors like vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or spices, these treats accommodate different dietary needs while ensuring delightful flavors and textures.

Figure 3. Gluten-Free Cookies and Biscuits Examples

Source: Meli’s Cookies

Gluten-Free Candies and Chocolates: Gluten-free candies and chocolates offer a variety of options, including chocolate, hard candy, and gummies. Common ingredients in these treats include cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar or natural sweeteners like agave syrup or fruit juice, nuts, dried fruits, gelatin or pectin for gummies, flavorings such as vanilla or fruit extracts, and optional inclusions like nuts, seeds, or dried fruits.

Figure 4. Gluten-Free Candies and Chocolates Examples

Source: GFF Magazine

Gluten-Free Snack Bars and Granola Bars: Gluten-free snacks and granola bars are convenient and nutritious on-the-go options packed with balanced protein, fiber, and flavor without gluten. Ingredients commonly used include nuts, seeds, gluten-free oats, dried fruits, natural sweeteners, nut butters, protein sources, and flavorings.

Figure 5. Gluten-Free Snack Bars and Granola Bars Examples

Source: Annie’s

Gluten-Free Cakes and Pastries: Gluten-free cakes and pastries provide tasty options for those with gluten sensitivities, ideal for special occasions or everyday treats. They typically feature ingredients like almond flour, coconut flour, rice flour, eggs, butter or dairy-free alternatives, natural sweeteners, baking powder, flavorings such as vanilla extract, and optional fillings or toppings like fresh fruit, nuts, or chocolate.

Figure 6. Gluten-Free Cakes and Pastries Examples

Source: Wide Open Country

Gluten-Free Cereal and Granola: Gluten-free cereal and granola provide breakfast options for those avoiding gluten. They typically contain certified gluten-free oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, natural sweeteners, healthy fats (like coconut oil), flavorings, and optional additions like coconut flakes or dark chocolate chunks.

Figure 7. Gluten-Free Cereal and Granola Examples

Source: Sporked

Gluten-Free Ice Cream and Frozen Treats: Gluten-free ice cream and frozen treats offer a range of flavors and textures, from creamy ice creams to refreshing sorbets. They typically contain ingredients like coconut milk or dairy-free alternatives, natural sweeteners, fruit purees or juices, flavorings, stabilizers, and optional additions like nuts, chocolate chips, or fruit chunks.

Figure 8. Gluten-Free Ice Cream and Frozen Treats Examples

Source: GoDairyFree

Industry Trends

The gluten-free confectionery market is experiencing significant growth driven by several trends and drivers:

Increasing Awareness and Diagnosis: The increasing awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease and gluten intolerance have resulted in a higher number of people searching for gluten-free options. As per the National Institute of Health (NIH), approximately 1.4% of the global population is affected by celiac disease.

Health and Wellness Trends: Consumers are increasingly adopting gluten-free diets as part of a broader trend towards healthier eating habits. They perceive gluten-free products, including confectionery, as healthier options, driving market growth. According to Mintel, 38% of consumers opt for gluten-free foods, believing it benefits their overall health, and 25% of consumers choose gluten-free foods for weight loss.

Lifestyle Choices: Beyond medical necessity, many consumers are choosing gluten-free diets for lifestyle reasons, such as weight management or digestive health. This trend expands the consumer base for gluten-free confectionery products. According to Mintel data, 82% of consumers who eat gluten-free foods, or have done so in the past, have not received celiac disease or medical diagnosis.

Product Innovation: Manufacturers are continually innovating to develop new and improved gluten-free confectionery options. This includes expanding flavor varieties, improving texture, and incorporating healthier ingredients to meet consumer preferences.

Premiumization and Convenience: Consumers are willing to pay a premium for high-quality gluten-free confectionery products that offer indulgent flavors and convenient packaging formats. Manufacturers are responding by focusing on premium ingredients and packaging designs that enhance the consumer experience.

Retail Expansion: The availability of gluten-free confectionery products has expanded in retail channels, including supermarkets, specialty health food stores, and online retailers. Increased accessibility contributes to market growth. Mintel reports that 90% of gluten-free consumers are satisfied with the available products at local stores due to increased variety, availability, and quality as demand for gluten-free foods rises.

The gluten-free confectionery industry is expected to continue its growth in the coming years, driven by increasing consumer awareness, expanding product innovation, and broader distribution channels. As more individuals adopt gluten-free diets for health, wellness, and lifestyle reasons, the demand for gluten-free confectionery products is projected to surge. Manufacturers are anticipated to focus on developing innovative offerings with premium ingredients and unique flavors to cater to evolving consumer preferences. Additionally, the accessibility of gluten-free confectionery products is expected to expand through various retail channels, including online platforms and foodservice establishments, further fueling market growth. With these trends in mind, the gluten-free confectionery market is forecasted to experience significant expansion in the upcoming years.

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