Kraft and Mondelez brands are moving toward gluten-free

14 Dec 2020

Kraft Heinz and Mondelez are expanding further into the gluten-free space with the release of gluten-free Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and gluten-free Oreos respectively. Kraft Heinz’s mac and cheese is now available, but Mondelez will not launch its new Oreos until 2021.

Gluten-free remains a trend that continues to grab the attention of both consumers and manufacturers. Data from Research and Markets pegged the value of the category at about $2.7 billion in 2018, with the anticipation that its value will more than double by 2025. However, there is uncertainty among experts as to whether the growth of the gluten-free market is driven by those who are intolerant or by those who associate gluten-free options with improved health.

Kraft and Mondelez brands are moving toward gluten-free

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an estimated 3 million people in the United States have celiac disease. Worldwide, those suffering from this condition represent 1% of the global population. Additionally, gluten intake can be limited for those with certain food allergies. While not all food allergies prevent people from consuming gluten, it is a figure that is on the rise with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noting childhood diagnoses of food allergies increased nearly 50% between 1997 and 2011.

Apart from those that are given no choice in their gluten consumption, there are plenty of consumers that elect to eat gluten-free for health reasons. Multiple studies have indicated that U.S. consumers purchasing gluten-free products have no health reason to do so. However, consumers feel that this particular dietary choice is advantageous for their health.

Despite the term gluten-free maintaining a health halo, experts have found that many of the foods aligning themselves with the trend are actually higher in fat and sugar than their gluten-filled counterparts. Even with these published findings, consumers, on average, pay more for the perceived health that they are purchasing along with a gluten-free product.

Gluten-free foods can cost up to 83% more, according to a 2019 U.S. market basket survey. Gluten-free Kraft Macaroni & Cheese costs $2.49 per box at Target whereas its original recipe counterpart costs $0.99. Mondelez has not yet announced pricing for its gluten-free Oreos.

As the gluten-free trend holds strong, both Oreo and Kraft are in line with other major manufacturers releasing gluten-free versions of their namesake brands. Companies from Nestlé to General Mills have debuted products that are targeted at consumers interested in gluten-free options, and smaller startups have launched product portfolios built on the concept of gluten-free. While this trend is currently proving to be a lucrative bet for Big Food companies looking to boost their bottom line, companies should also monitor how this consumer base develops and continue to deliver products that meet their needs.