WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- Grocery industry analysts say the market for food allergy and intolerance products is growing quickly, fueled by more diagnosed cases of allergic reactions.
The market for such products as gluten-free foods and drinks is expected to jump from $700 million in 2006 to $1.3 billion by 2010, while the market for food allergy items is set to reach $3.9 billion this year, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
The newspaper said about 12 million people in the United States have food allergies, while another 2 million suffer from celiac disease, a condition triggered by exposure to gluten wherein the body's immune system attacks itself. Gluten in a protein found in wheat.
Thanks to the growing consumer awareness about allergies and intolerances, some big companies are jumping on the bandwagon. General Mills, for instance, said in April it had reformulated its popular cereal Rice Chex to be gluten-free.
"Rice Chex … was truly our effort to meet the needs of these consumers," Kevin Farnum, director of sanitation, quality and regulatory operations for General Mills told the Post. "We know there is a great demand among consumers to have free-from labeling."