According to new data from market research firm The NPD Group, the number of consumers going gluten free is continuing to grow. About 28 percent of adults 18 and older reported they are avoiding gluten, a 1-percent increase since 2010. Among those avoiding gluten are roughly 3 million people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease and the approximately 18 million people who are estimated to have non-celiac gluten intolerance. Meanwhile, other consumers are adopting a gluten-free diet for a variety of reasons, including a host of perceived health benefits.
In a survey taken from January to September 2012, 26 percent of adults 18 to 59 years old said they were avoiding gluten, up from 24 percent in 2010. Similarly, 30 percent of adults over 55 said they were avoiding gluten, up from 29 percent in 2010. This small but growing group are ordering more gluten-free items at restaurants, NPD said. In a recent NPD CREST report on restaurant meals and snacking, about 1 percent of consumers indicated they had ordered food described on a menu as gluten free or wheat free. While it may only reflect a small percentage, it is more than double what it was four years ago and now accounts for more than 200 million restaurant visits, NPD said.