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Demonizing food through the ages

how long do you weight before you jump on the band wagon or at all when it comes to

In the modern age of processed food, there have been foods, beverages and ingredients that have been demonized and stricken from many diets, but usually only for a short time.

In our heightened state of awareness, in our modern age of information and technology, these demons are coming in fast a furious.  The true test of endurance is all about sustainability, which ultimately is about how realistic it is and whether consumers can and will change their behaviours to accommodate.

The question becomes, how long do you weight before you jump on the band wagon or at all.

In my December 2012 blog, I talked about why this also wouldn’t last, but why it might last a little longer than these fads have lasted in the past.

Since December, a lot more information – Canadian based information has become available.  With this new information I stick to my belief that gluten-free like many of the other food fads, will eventually fade away into niche products only.

There was an article recently published in Maclean’s magazine which provided these Canadian statistics:

*Gluten-free products represent approximately a $90-million segment in Canada

*Cost of gluten-free products is approximately two times that of a similar non-gluten free product

*About 1% of the Canadian population is estimated to be diagnosed or afflicted but still undiagnosed who are strictly prohibited from consuming gluten/wheat

*Gluten-free products span a huge range of products from breads and pastas, to sauces to Eucharistic wafers.

And according to FIVE, a comprehensive Ipsos survey about food and beverage consumption:

*2% of consumers claim to have a wheat allergy or intolerance

*1% of all foods and beverages consumed have a gluten-free claim

Let’s look at these facts from a business perspective.

If the gluten-free segment in Canada is $90-million and let’s say for arguments sake that covers 20 different categories (it is likely more than 20 categories), that means that is only $4.5 million a category, with small categories capturing even less.

When you factor in the costs of production, product development, packaging, listing fees and distribution, there won’t be much left of that $4.5 million of revenue.

Simple lift and adapt of products already developed from the U.S. or other countries cuts down on some costs, but the size of the opportunity just doesn’t seem to make it a viable business option.

Easy label changes with gluten-free flashes might draw attention to your product, but be careful about labelling it if there was never any gluten present.

Consumers are catching on to this, particularly the younger Millennial consumers, and this is adding to their scepticism about labels and how products are marketed.

Let’s contrast the 2% of people who have a wheat allergy or intolerance to the 4% of individuals who claim to be lactose intolerant.  I certainly don’t see the same focus and hype about lactose free products hitting and flying off the shelves.

The majority of the people who have adopted a gluten-free diet but do not have a medical need, will eventually tire of their restricted range of choices, the high cost of their food and eventually go back to eating what they would normally–until the next demon has been identified.

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