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How Gluten Free Cookies Have Impacted The Cookie Market

January 4, 2013

Marketing, regardless of the product or service, has always been a matter of finding a need, or niche, and filling it. Filling the need for tasty gluten free cookies has been a challenge for the cookie market for almost as long as there has been a cookie market. However, the challenge has been viewed by cookie manufacturers, large and small, as an opportunity to be creative and offer variety to their customers. Along the way, the challenge of creating gluten free cookies to rival some of the classic wheat based favorites has helped expand the cookie market in other specialized niche areas too.

Gluten, from Latin “gluten,” meaning glue, is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It is in traditional flour, a main ingredient in cookies. Since up to 1 percent of the population is gluten intolerant, those people used to have to avoid not only cookies, but also bread and other staples most people take for granted. Over time, innovative and creative manufactures were able to come up with substitutes for traditional ingredients, such as gluten free flour and gluten free egg substitute.

After developing a basic cookie that was gluten free, creative gluten free cookie manufacturers collaborated with other niche manufacturers to solve mutual problems, such as taste and marketing. For example, manufacturing gluten free cookies is compatible with manufacturing cookies for people with food allergies such as allergies to milk, eggs, groundnuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soya and wheat. Thus, a cookie marketed as a gluten free cookie can also be marketed as an egg free cookie or a nut free cookie. Vegan cookies are free of any ingredients in any way derived from animals. Other overlapping categories of consumer niches would include people watching their cholesterol intake, observing kosher pareve, or children with autism.

The process of borrowing between niche manufacturers to find substitutes for traditional ingredients and ingredients that are tasty have led to cookies that are comparable to traditional wheat based classics. Gluten free oatmeal cookies, gluten free sugar cookies and gluten free chocolate chip cookies rival their wheat based counterparts in taste so much so that traditional consumers often buy them for the taste. This expansion and variety has allowed coffee shops, supermarkets, farmer’s markets and others that sell other gluten free, natural or otherwise healthy products to offer a greater variety to their customers.

The gluten free market is estimated to reach $3 billion by 2014. Manufacturers of gluten free cookies collaborating with other niche manufacturers like those marketing kosher, organic or products low in cholesterol, will have played a significant role in that growth by influencing the expansion of choice offered to consumers within the cookie market and beyond.

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