As the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates 30% of Americans are eliminating or decreasing the amount of gluten in their diet, the gluten-free sections of many supermarkets continue to expand. Larger mainstream manufacturers are joining niche and startup companies to offer a variety of gluten-free products, including baked goods.
Almost as important as what’s not in gluten-free products — namely, the protein in wheat, rye, barley and other similar grains — is what is on a gluten-free package. Labeling is especially important in free-from products, given the fact that consumers on restricted diets want or need to know what they’re eating. In mid-2014, the Food and Drug Administration required that products labeled as gluten-free must be in compliance with federal standards, a move that spurred new and updated labels for gluten-free packages, including labels heralding third-party certification of products.
Beyond information on the label, gluten-free companies are using packaging materials and formats to distinguish their products. Recently, Aleia’s Gluten-Free Products in Branford, Conn., teamed up with the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based design firm Rook to redesign its cookie and other baked goods packages, merchandised in a stand-up brown bag with minimal color and clear, large graphics communicating the gluten-free benefits of the products. Another company trying to signal its free-from profile is The Good Scone Baking Co., San Diego, which offers a line of gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free cake mixes. The Good Scone worked with design firm Elevate Creative in San Diego to create a stand-up pouch that spotlights the health benefits of the mixes.
Meanwhile, gluten-free products and packaging are likely to continue to garner attention and spark innovation. The market research firm Mintel projected the gluten-free market to grow to $15.6 billion by 2016, at current prices.