More than three-quarters of gluten-free bread consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom also incorporate regular bread into their diets, according to results of a recent on-line survey released by DSM Food Specialties during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition, held June 26-28 in Las Vegas.

The targeted quantitative panel study of 1,000 people, known to be gluten-free bread consumers, indicated that 56% of U.S. respondents eat mostly gluten-free bread, 25% mostly consume other breads and only 19% exclusively consume gluten-free bread. The statistics are slightly different in the U.K., where 46% mostly eat gluten-free, 31% mostly other bread and 23% eat only gluten-free bread, according to the survey, which was conducted in April.

Over the next three years, net growth of gluten-free bread is expected to rise by 44% in the United Kingdom and 54% in the United States. The survey also showed that consumers, especially in the United States, are interested in eating gluten-reduced bread. A majority in both the United States (74%) and United Kingdom (64%) said they would probably consider buying bread with lower levels of gluten in it. 
“This demonstrates that gluten-free bread competes with regular bread on market shelves, which signifies an opportunity for the category to gain market share from ordinary bread,” the DSM report concluded.
At IFT17, Fokke van den Berg, director of strategy, marketing and applications for DSM, suggested that the survey shows that “gluten-free is much more than a niche” and appeals to a much broader base than those families where an individual is allergic to gluten. Only about 2% of the population suffers from a form of Celiac disease, he noted.
In fact, 31% of U.S. respondents indicated they eat gluten-free bread because of lifestyle choice, specifically for its perceived nutrition value and to lose weight. Some 15% also choose gluten-free bread because it’s easier to digest. The results are slightly different in the United Kingdom, where gluten intolerance and sensitivity was the second consideration (16%).
Perhaps not surprisingly, consumers in both countries cite cost and taste as the key factors when purchasing gluten-free bread. In addition, the report noted that other areas for improvement include enhancing mouthfeel — specifically softness, texture and moisture of the products — as well as longer shelf life and better-sized loaves.
“Bakers should respond to evolving consumer demand with innovative products that deliver on taste, quality and shelf life, but that don’t break the bank,” the report concluded.