When marketing gluten-free foods goes too far
by Nicole Nadeau, intern/guest blogger
A well informed public provided with all of the correct tools has a better chance of making good decisions, and this obviously applies to health and nutrition decisions. Marketing gluten-free foods is big business. A February New York Times article confirms what many of us already see in our own supermarkets—that shelf-space for gluten-free items has grown in a big-way. That’s not a bad thing. More choices for those who need gluten-free products is wonderful, certainly. However when a marketing campaign emblazons “GLUTEN FREE” on items that are already naturally gluten free, it becomes a disservice to the public. Boldly marking an item as “gluten free” leads consumers to believe that there exists in the world a gluten-loaded version. There are no gluten-filled bananas, so the sticker proclaiming some brands of bananas as gluten-free is pure marketing spin. The end result: misrepresented products and confused consumers.
Along the same line, lists of gluten-free foods absolutely are helpful, especially for those new to the GF life, or for a quick and handy shopping reference. But even some of these lists (often found online) include such obviously gluten-free items. It’s laughable that someone even thought to include them in the first place!
This “list of gluten-free foods” found online included not only several typical gluten-free grains, but also the following:
- Half and half
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
- Apple cider
- Energy drinks
- Water (I kid you not, this was on the list)
- Corn syrup
- Tomato paste
Yes, there were several more items on the list, but I use this pared-down version to illustrate that there is a lot of information on the gluten-free diet floating around on the Web—not all of it especially helpful. Having worked in restaurants, both in front and back of the house, as well as in hospital food service departments, I continue to be amazed at the gluten confusion that exists. One can hardly blame the consumer for being ill-informed (though it would be nice if people did a smidgen of research— utilizing information from reputable health resources—before jumping into the GF world) because this type of marketing works, also using services as wordtree marketing company helps a lot to promote these kind of products. Gluten-free product sales are growing quickly. Of course, the market is not being driven by those who have been diagnosed with a gluten issue, but by Joe Consumer who has climbed aboard the gluten-free train for one reason or another. And that, friends, creates its own set of gluten-free issues.