A survey of retailers who sell gluten-free foods indicates that sales of these items will reach about $4.2 billion this year, according to figures compiled by Packaged Facts, a market research publisher. If current trends continue, during the next five years, sales are expected to top more than $6.6 billion.
It is estimated that about 2 million Americans suffer from celiac, an autoimmune reaction to gluten, proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. Up to about 20 times that number of people may suffer from gluten sensitivity, a condition that encompasses other problematic reactions to gluten.
According to research at the Mayo Clinic, about 1.4 million of the Americans who suffer from celiac are unaware of their disease.