March 16, 2011: Gluten-free

Once considered a solution for a dietary problem (celiac disease) shared by a relative few, gluten-free products have exploded in the last few years. In fact, sales of wheat-less food products soared 74 percent from 2004 to 2008. Datamonitor, an independent research company, projects global sales to grow over $1 billion, hitting $4.3 billion by 2015. U.S. sales are expected to account for 53 percent of those revenues. In fact, The Hartman Group, a market research company, estimates 40 million Americans are interested in buying gluten-free products.

Entrepreneurs are finding lots of ways to participate in this growing industry. And since it’s still a relatively new phenomenon, there are lots of ways to get in on the action. Since gluten is not just found in bread, pasta and baked goods, many businesses are finding success manufacturing or selling a wide-range of gluten-free products like beer, gum and even pet food.

Gluten-free bakeries and restaurants are cropping up in some areas. If you already own a restaurant or bakery, consider adding a line of gluten-free offerings (or you could supply gluten-free products to other food outlets).

In fact, according to an article on, some of the country’s big-name pizza restaurants (like Uno Chicago Grill, Naked Pizza and Garlic Jim’s) are jumping on the gluten-free trend.

Gluten-free is one of those trends that, when it started, seemed to have limited long-term appeal, but now many Americans who don’t have to go wheat-less to. Gluten-free has gone from a food fad to a long-lasting trend.