Delicious Living Blog

Gluten free: still hot at Expo West 2011

Gluten free isn't going anywhere -- just check out the products and education sessions at Expo West 2011.

People often ask me if I think gluten free is a fad, destined to recede once the media hype dies down. My answer: Gluten free is as relevant as ever, and in fact, I expect it to grow even more as a category in foods, products, and discussion. The reason? I think there are thousands if not millions of people who are still dealing with a persistent, unexplained malady that they have not yet connected to a gluten allergy or intolerance -- possibly because many gluten symptoms seemingly have nothing to do with digestive issues (for example, migraines, joint pain, even infertility). Once they go on an elimination diet, they may well find they feel a whole lot better without gluten (as well as other possible common "allergens"). This presents a huge opportunity for manufacturers ... and, as I pointed out in an earlier blog, a higher mission to create great-tasting, gluten-free foods that are also healthy, made with nutrient-dense grains and seeds like brown rice, quinoa, and chia. You can bet there will be tons of new and established gluten-free products at Expo West this week; a few I'm planning to visit include Purely Elizabeth, Udi's, Pamela's, Kinnikinnick, and Crunchmaster.

If you're heading to Expo West 2011 and are interested in gluten free, check out the sessions dedicated to the topic: Gluten Free on the Menu: Expanding your Customer Base and Uncovering Opportunities (Fri, March 11, 9:30am, Room 207A);  Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly in the Media: Navigating News to Stay Ahead of These Growing Categories (Fri, March 11, 2:45pm, Room 207A); and Gluten-Free 2.0: Taking a Second Look at the Gluten-Free Market, Nutrition, and Ingredient Supply (Sat, March 12, 12pm, SupplyExpo EPS Theater, Booth#366).

One more thing: As far as a weight-loss diet, I do think gluten-free will prove less useful. It may help someone shed pounds because they'll be eating fewer nutrient-empty carbs, but I don't think it's any kind of answer as a long-term weight loss strategy.

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