New Year’s is a popular time for people to resolve to make diet and exercise changes to develop a healthier self. Although some of us have the luxury of choosing to change our diets, others change because of allergies.

While attending a local beer tasting event last fall, I encountered a couple who stopped at each booth requesting and only sampling gluten-free beers. Before then, I had associated allergies more so with food than beverages, but I’ve since learned that the gluten-free market plays a role in the beverage world as well.

According to Chicago-based Mintel’s Global New Products Database, 148 new gluten-free beverage products were released between December 2011 and December 2012, including teas, juices, hard ciders, ales, carbonated soft drinks, powdered drink mixes and more.

Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts found that 18 percent of consumers polled in its August 2012 survey buy gluten-free food and beverage products, whether because of allergies or other health reasons. This 18 percent is up from 15 percent in 2010, according to the report. It also estimates that 2012 sales of these products will total approximately $4.2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year.

Promoting awareness of gluten-free diets including beverages, Fairfield, Conn.-based Bigelow Tea named eco-fashion expert Greta Eagan, who follows a strict, gluten-free diet, as its December 2012 Fan of the Month. The brand described on its blog how Eagan incorporates tea, which is naturally gluten-free, into her diet as both a beverage option and a cooking ingredient.

To add more gluten-free beers to the market, Harvester Brewing, Portland, Ore., launched its Experimental Ale series last spring, with new additions arriving throughout the year, to offer a seasonal variety to gluten-free beer lovers.

 Perhaps as awareness of gluten allergies increases, the gluten-free market will continue to grow and become more popular in other beverage segments as well.