During May, the medical and dietary communities recognize Celiac Awareness Month, shedding light on the gluten-related autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 3 million Americans, according to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. Mayo Clinic regards Celiac disease as a public health epidemic, as it is four times more common now than it was 60 years ago.
To respond to these growing dietary needs, more brands are presenting gluten-free options, including gluten-free beverages. Devotion Vodka announced at the end of 2013 that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted the brand permission to print “gluten-free” on its bottles. Also, in honor of Celiac Awareness Month, the brand partnered with celiac.com to communicate the brand’s news and developments to the gluten-free and Celiac communities. Other established gluten-free alcohol brands, including TY KU sake and Prairie Organic Spirits, are touting their gluten-free attributes this month through tastings and other promotions as well.
Beyond these products, nearly 600 gluten-free beverage products, both alcohol and non-alcohol, were launched in the past year, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database. These products either do not include gluten-containing grain or include ingredients that have been processed to remove gluten, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.
Of course, many of these beverages are targeted toward the general public, too. In fact, consumers without a sensitivity to gluten are increasingly choosing gluten-free diets for other benefits. Mintel reports that 65 percent of consumers who eat gluten-free foods do so because they think they are healthier, and 27 percent eat them because they feel they aid in their weight-loss efforts. This interest in gluten-free options has driven 44 percent growth for gluten-free foods and beverages from 2011 to 2013, and Mintel estimates that sales hit $10.5 billion in 2013.