Gluten free online demand in the US is huge, while celiac searches steadies in 2009

Oct 21 11:33 2009 Bruce Scott Dwyer Print This Article

Gluten free is big business in the US and growing rapidly. This report looks at the annual growth rate and seasonal trend patterns of gluten free searches on line and celiac searches. Un-expectantly the number of people searching for gluten free online are growing near 50% year on year while celiac search numbers remain relatively stagnant. It appears that two distinct sets of people are searching for these terms for very distinct reasons. See why.

Gluten Free Pages original research was performed on the demand for the top 50 search terms associated with gluten free products in the US,Guest Posting Australia, Canada and UK. Analysis showed that not only did these countries have the leading number of ‘celiac searches per month' values amongst most countries, they also have a very similar profile of the types of terms searched. In particular it was found that when the leading keyword terms were segmented into seven core groups, that the largest group was always the generic GF product group, followed by the celiac group.

Also of note is that each of these two leading groups (typically composed of 5 to 10 terms) were usually dominated by the terms ‘gluten free' and ‘celiac' (or coeliac for Australia and the UK).

English speaking Search volumes per month, June 09


Gluten Free----1,830,000-----135,000------165,000-----201,000

Celiac / celiac---673,000------33,100--------74,000------74,000

Previous research into search trends for the term ‘gluten free' across these countries showed that US and Canada had very high sustained growth rate (near 40% per annum) for the last five years, followed by Australia at about 10% growth then UK near zero growth. This article looks at the search trends for the leading ‘celiac' group term and how it correlates with the growth trend for ‘gluten free' searches.

The four year growth demand trends for the celiac term for each country are substantially lower than their trends for gluten free.

The December growth spikes in Gluten Free searches for the US and Canada are a stand out, however the general growth trends tend to be a smooth positive growth trend compared to the celiac demand trend.

Relative growth trend ‘year on year' averages

While the Celiac growth rate is much lower than the gluten free online demand growth rate for any given country. For example in the US ‘Gluten free' 2004 had an absolute average growth rate of 101% and in 2005 a rate of 122%. This gives it a relative growth rate gain of 21% in 2005. The relative growth for the US between the Gluten Free rates ‘year on year' are much more positive than its Celiac equivalents. For example in Gluten free 2006 to 2007 went from 35% to 70% (a doubling of growth increase) while for the same period ‘celiac' searches went from 10% to 10% (a relative zero growth of growth rates.

In Australia, while ‘gluten free’ had strong positive growth for each year, it was doing so at a decreasing rate between 2005 and 2007. Between 2005 and 2006 gluten free searches had decreased growth from +18% to +11% (38% decrease) while in celiac searches 2005 to 2006 it decreased from -4% to -5% (25% decrease).

For all countries, the relative yearly growth rates for the two keywords have very low correlation. The only similarity is that the order of the annual growth rates for the highest gluten free demand countries is the same for gluten free as it is for celiac: US (highest), Canada, Australia, UK (Lowest).

Stability of Seasonal growth trends USA

The data shows that while the USA ‘gluten free' seasonal demand trend is very high positive growth (up to 50% per year) it also follows the same pattern very closely each year. By comparison, the celiac growth trend is very flat and except for two peaks (Mar 07 and Oct O6). The celiac seasonal growth trend is also similar for each of its years.

Stability of growth trends AUSTRALIA 

Similar to the US, for Australia the seasonal trends for ‘Gluten free' searches (annual seasonal trend shape) are all close together, and positive. The demand trend for seasonal celiac searches is overall more negative and much more volatile month to month, though again there is a similar pattern each year.

Seasonal trend comparison - ALL countries 

The gluten free seasonal graphs (jan to dec) has a strong growth bias towards the end of year for each country, due to its strong positive growth rate as well the northern hemisphere spikes of winter and Christmas searching/ spending occurring at the same time.

The ‘celiac' seasonal growth trend profile is VERY different from the gluten free trend shape. However, all countries within the celiac trends show a remarkably similar profile to each other. In particular for the celiac demand, it is noted that while there is on average a flat growth trend, positive spikes are seen to occur for most countries in March, May and October.


Original research on the top fifty keywords showed that the two leading keyword groups for leading celiac search countries were gluten free and celiac groups. It was thought that the more gluten free aware countries tended to have a much higher proportion of searches for gluten free than celiac as the markets were closer to maturity and people search for celiac information in the early stages of their diagnosis, then continue to search for gluten free throughout their life.

Weak underdeveloped markets such as Brazil and India tended to have a much similar total volume of searches for each of the two groups. The theory being that in under developed (under diagnosed) markets a higher proportion of people have just been diagnosed and are looking up effects of celiac disease before they go onto searching for gluten free products.

Standard market growth for most products tend to be bell shaped in appearance, that is when a company introduces a model it takes a while to achieve penetration, then peaks then subsides as peoples tastes change, technology improves or competitors bring out better products. However in the celiac case, the growth will be S shaped as demand (searches) head towards a stabilised peak as eventually all celiac are diagnosed and diagnosis methods improve to detect celiac disease earlier. Unlike other products a celiac will search for gluten free products for life, unless a cure is found.

It was expected that as even the most developed markets analysed here are a long way from maturity (due to low diagnosis rates) that the gluten free searches would be near the start of the S curve. While the US has very high gluten free growth demand, it's starting off a very low base (about half the relative value of Australia). However if the same people who search for ‘gluten free' terms were at some stage searching for ‘celiac' information it is thought that the seasonal trends and overall annual growth rates should correlate with each other - and clearly they do not.

The low diagnosis rate of celiac disease, even in mature markets, suggests that the markets are far from maturity. And as the growth profiles (absolute growth rates and yearly seasonal trend) show no correlation between each other it is VERY likely that the demand trends are for two distinct sets of people. Gluten Free searches are most likely attributed to celiac consumers looking to find GF food to eat. The celiac searches may partly be due to celiac consumers however the vast majority is likely to be attributed to medical professionals (who are not necessarily celiac) and allied professionals interested in the understanding of the disease for professional reasons.

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Bruce Scott Dwyer
Bruce Scott Dwyer

This article created by Bruce Scott Dwyer for - for the full article with references and similar articles please visit this site's Original Articles page. You may also like to visit his market analyst site

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