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Gluten-free foods were the trendiest food trend at this year's International Restaurant and Foodservice Show.
"It's a trend, but it's something that's here to stay," said Rick Sampson, president of the New York State Restaurant Association, which sponsors the show. "I noticed a couple (of gluten-free exhibitors) out there that I didn't see last year."
Producers of gluten-free foods cater to people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting one in 133 Americans that renders them unable to digest gluten, according to the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center. The foods also serve those with more mild gluten sensitivity, which is harder to diagnose.
But what used to be niche dietary restriction, relegated to a shelf or two at the health food store, has become glamorous and now practically the norm. A third of Americans in 2012 said they were trying to cut back or eliminate gluten from their diets, according to a report from the NPD group.
Packaged Facts reports that the market for gluten-free foods reached $4.2 billion in 2012, reflecting a 28% compound annual growth rate since 2008.