The market for gluten-free foods and beverages grew at a compound rate of 28 percent from 2004 to 2008 with sales reaching an estimated $1.6 billion last year, says Packaged Facts Inc. Moreover, this New York-based researcher says the market will continue to grow at a double-digit rate with new product introductions and conversions of many existing offerings to gluten-free alternatives. As a result, the market for gluten-free foods could reach $2.6 billion in sales by 2012.

“Evidence shows that the patients that comprise the celiac community are not willing to be passive sufferers,” says Tatjana Meerman, Packaged Facts publisher. “Their passion to live a full life without gluten must be considered one of the most powerful driving forces in the market. The fact that approximately three million Americans suffer from celiac disease does not mean that only they are buying gluten-free. Those others suffering maladies relieved by going gluten-free and their ensuing mobilization and activism have focused a great deal of attention on gluten-free eating.”

Packaged Facts says more than 225 marketers introduced gluten-free products in 2008. Interestingly, these food and beverage offerings spanned nearly every category of branded and private label products.