What is the Market-Place for Gluten-Free?

Gluten-free foods is as much a dietary necessity as it is a concept in the culinary and product development arts. The gluten-free label has almost become symbolic with healthy eating where gluten is treated as an unwanted ingredient. Without gluten however, the value of the protein in any wheat based food is severely undervalued and appreciated. Gluten however is an issue for any one with coeliac disease. Whilst the incidence of coeliac as well as sensitivity to gluten has risen, the size of the population able to tolerate gluten is significantly high.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It produces adverse reactions in coeliacs causing severe inflammation of the gut. There are varying degrees of issue ranging from mild sensitivity to outright debilitation and hospitalization.

Consumers have shifted their eating habits substantially in the last ten years and certainly because of COVID-19. There is an increasing number of people substituting a gluten-free diet for what they usually had. This is the growing trend in clean-label which is in hand with a better healthier diet. Pasta offers many benefits anyway in the diet and these can be improved with fortification and the addition of novel ingredients. Consumers are also looking at pasta within the whole range of gluten-free foods and linking it to with organic and GMO-free.

Eating Out

Gluten-free restaurants and diners are now part of main stream US culture especially in the big cities. The food service sector is nowadays providing plenty of gluten-free options which means there is ample opportunity for growth in certain markets such as gluten-free pastas.

It’s not all focused however on a rising trend in the overall gluten-free sector. In recent years, the gluten free movement has begun to lose some of its impact. Back in 2018, before COVID hit town, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) noticed that chefs in the USA were starting to lose interest in the concept. Based on surveys, just 44% of chefs in 2018 were reported in their culinary forecast to consider gluten-free a ‘hot trend’ whereas it has been 61% in 2016 and 74% back in 2013 (NRA Reports, 2013, 2016 & 2018).

As well as gluten-free foods, there has been a substantial rise in vegetarianism and veganism to the point where foods are virtually natural and organic with emphasis on clean-label.

The trends working against gluten-free is the availability of key ingredients and the higher cost of all gluten-free foods. There is also an ever prevailing issue of cross-contamination in all food sectors. In some cases, not all areas of the world are ‘au fait’ with the idea of gluten-free which limits opportunities for expansion.

 A study from 2019, reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that half of gluten-free pasta dishes in restaurants tested positive for the presence of gluten and one-third of gluten-free foods generally had levels of detectable gluten. To be labeled gluten-free in the United States, a food must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm).

Gluten-Free Pasta Market

Gluten-free pasta is now a significant share of the marketplace. These are pasta made with maize (corn), rice, quinoa and legumes such as yellow pea. They are prepared in a way that means they have an almost identical texture and flavour to pasta made with wheat. Corn pasta is still the leading version because of its mild flavour which leads itself well to the addition of other ingredients and to fortification as well as the use of various sauces.

According to a market research study by Zion Market Research, the global size and share revenue was around 1.52 billion USD in 2022 and is thought to grow to 2.07 billion USD by 2030. That implies a CAGR of about 4.6% from 2023 to 2030. Another consumer research group found a less buoyant market for GF pasta. Future Market Insights (FMI) thought the global market was nearly 1/3rd lower at 1.1 Billion USD in 2022 but would grow at a CAGR of 4.5% to 1.5 Billion USD by 2032. Clearly the figures vary but it is still a sizeable market at the lower end of the scale.

The main businesses are:-

  • Bionaturae, LLC
  • The Kraft Heinz Company (Heinz),
  • R.P.’s Pasta Company,
  • General Mills Inc.,
  • Explore Cuisine,
  • B&G Foods,
  • Nudel Pasta,
  • Kame,
  • DeLallo Foods,
  • Ancient Harvest,
  • Quinoa Corporation,
  • Ebro Foods & S.A. Group (Ebro),
  • Jovial Foods, Inc,
  • The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Hain Celestial),
  • Dr Schär AG/SPA (Dr Schär),
  • Doves Farm Foods Ltd (UK)
  • Bionaturae, LLC,
  • Barilla Group – the biggest producer by far
  • Hodgson Mill Inc.,
  • Garofolo
  • Quinoa Corporation

The top 3 countries in the world including the USA account have 34.4% of the market share whilst gluten-free pasta sales account for 1.8% of demand share (FMI, 2023). The top three regions for GF pasta is in decreasing order, Europe, North America then Latin America.

Our changing lifestyle along with expanding urbanization is driving demand too for ready-to-use and pre-cooked food products. Ready meals are especially highly desired particularly amongst those who are working regularly. The general demand for ready meal pasta in the retail sector and in the household is very high compared to dried pastas (FMI, 2023). It is an example of a food group bucking a trend in processed foods because they are becoming simpler with smaller ingredient lists. Another product group finding considerable traction in the ready meal sector are the filled pastas, be they non-GF or otherwise.

The Country Perspective On GF Pasta

In the USA, gluten intolerance has boosted GF-pasta sales. It has 90.6% share of this market in 2022 and is thought to grow by 6.1% to 2032 simply because of this issue.

In Europe. the driver is not so much gluten intolerance but growing health consciousness. Italy has always traditionally had the largest market share for pasta anyway but this holds too for GF-pasta. Italy has 21.8% share and this will grow by 2.8% CAGR to 2032. A focus on Italy shows that consumption of packaged foods amongst millenials and Gen-Zs is the key factor. It is also across the board in Europe too with increasing nutritional benefits.

China has had a substantial share of the noodle market but India is starting to draw level. It now has 30% of the market share in South Asia. This is due to a rising middle class and rapid urbanization as well as a general trend towards better nutrition. The use of e-commerce in India is also driving sales.

Category Drivers

The main types of gluten-free pasta are made from brown rice, quinoa, multigrains and chickpea. Brown rice is starting to dominate the global GF-pasta market and now has half the market share in 2022. It will grow by 3.1% CAGR to 2032. One reason for its success is that it has a mild flavour with a chewy texture and also holds up well in ready-meals. It also has numerous health benefits such as various minerals and vitamins for helping control diabetes and metabolic syndrome conditions

Contract manufacturers

A variety of contract manufacturers are available to produce a whole range of gluten-free foods. These foods can also be corn-free and soya-free too.

Naturtrade (Szeged, Hungary) produce gluten-free flours as well as GF pasta for the private label range. Smaller GF-pasta producers are naturally based in Italy such as Pasta Gustosa (Gravina, Puglia. Italy) who produce shapes from purely red lentils, green peas or chickpeas. We also find Andriani SpA (Gravina, Puglia, Italy)  who use similar flours from buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, lentils and peas in their catalogue. Their signature brand is Felicia Bio.

Another famous Italian producer is Barilla (Parma) which has been producing pasta since 1877 has a very strong almost a stranglehold on the pasta market. Then there is Garofalo (Gragnano, Italy) who also produce their own brand of pasta.

Doves Farm produce their brand name freee™ brown rice penne in Italy under contract.

In the USA there is:-

  • Hodgson Mill (Effingham. Illinois) have a substantial manufacturing capacity although it is uncertain as to how large. They produce a vast range of baking products tailored to gluten-free food as well as custom mixes for both wheat and GF pasta. They also produce macaroni and cheese style dinners.
  • Next Phase Enterprises Co. (Hillman, Michigan) – for gluten-free mixes and flours for baking. product development covers through to commercialisation. They can make 140,000 lbs. GF pasta monthly.
  • ZENB was founded by the Mizkan Group in Japan. They have offices in a variety of places including ZENB UK Ltd (London, UK). They produce pasta shapes such as fusilli, macaroni and penne using yellow peas for the USA, UK market. They also produce a range of pasta sauces such as cherry tomato, red pepper and sweet carrot. They produce their pastas in Michigan under license.

In India, producers include Zippy Edible Products Pvt Ltd. Jaspur, Uttarakhand) in northern India. They produce al type of pasta inlcuding vermicelli, precooked pastas and fortified rice kernels).


Manufacturers of pasta equipment include Italpast SRL (Fidenza, Parma. Italy).

Zion Market Research (2023) Gluten-Free Pasta Market By Product Type (Quinoa Pasta, Chickpea Pasta, Brown Rice Pasta, And Multigrain Pasta), By Distribution Channel (Retail Shops And Supermarkets), And By Region – Global And Regional Industry Overview, Market Intelligence, Comprehensive Analysis, Historical Data, And Forecasts 2023 – 2030.

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