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Happy National Pizza Day!

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It is Friday night, it’s late and it has been one of “those” weeks. Just the thought of getting back up off the couch to make dinner is exhaustive. There is really only one solution when faced with this situation: pizza. For many Americans, having quick access to a pizza pie, whether ordered or frozen, when the thought of cooking an elaborate dinner cannot be born is the cherished tradition.

Ah the pizza pie! Nothing can beat your cheesy, saucy goodness! It is truly amore! While artesian pizzas are all the craze today, the pizza itself dates back as far as the 1700’s. Originating in Naples, Italy, the first pizzas where flatbreads that sported various toppings and were considered the poor people’s street food and were considered “disgusting” by the upper classes. Legend has it that pizza won its international renown when the king and queen of Italy, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita, visited Naples in 1889. Tired of fancy French cuisine, the pair asked for an assortment of local food. The queen became particularly fond of the “pizza mozzarella”, a pie topped with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. In her honor, the pie was renamed for her and the popularity of the local street food spread.

Pizza on a Gluten Free Diet

gluten-free-pizza.jpgWhile grabbing a slice has become a time honored American tradition, for those who have celiacs disease, gluten intolerance or wheat allergies, this beloved food has not always been an option. At least until recently.

Since the gluten-free movement first boomed in 2010, manufacturers and retailers alike have taken notice. Gluten-free items can now be found easily online and in major retail chains rather than just in specialty online health stores. In addition, many restaurants have also taken note of the movement and have added gluten-free items to their menus in order to remain fresh and current. According to Packaged Facts, gluten-free penetration in restaurants has jumped seven-fold since 2010, reaching a rate of 14.8%. This is particularly true of pizza restaurants, who are 11% more likely to offer gluten-free options than other causal restaurant types. Case and point, the 15 largest pizza chains, such as Dominos, Papa Johns and Pizza Hut, all offer gluten-free options. You can find the whole list here. This is excellent news for those who follow a gluten-free diet and cannot find inspiration on a Friday night.

And the news only continues to get better.

Package Facts estimates that the gluten-free market will continue to grow at an average compound growth rate of 19.2% through 2019. According to Packaged Facts, there a several key factors that will continue to influence the growth of the gluten-free market: an escalating prevalence of health problems associated with diet and a growth in demographics groups prone to purchasing gluten free.

While those who suffer from celiac disease and gluten intolerance make up a relatively small amount of the population, 1% and 5% respectively, the National Center for Health Statistics Data found, in a May 2013 study, that the prevalence of food allergies among children has increased over the last few years from 3.4% in 1997 to 5.1% in 2011, or about one in 20 children. However, other studies suggest that up to 8% of children under the age of 18 suffer from food allergies. Of those with diagnosed allergies, 39% of allergy sufferers have a severe allergy while more than 30% suffered from multiple allergies. Since many gluten-free products are free from multiple allergens, the gluten-free market is well situated to take advantage of this current trend. As more children are diagnosed, we expect to see a greater demand for gluten-free options (like pizza!) in school lunch programs to accommodate these growing trends.

In addition to those who must follow a gluten-free diet for specific health reasons, there are many who follow a gluten-free diet in order to treat symptoms of other diseases. While there is limited data to back it up, many find that following a gluten-free diet provides relief from arthritis symptoms. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, we expect to see this influential group positively impact the gluten-free market demand. However, since this group is not following a strict gluten-free diet, this particular segment opens the door to the possibility of a low gluten-free segment.

All-in-all, the demand for gluten-free options is not going away any time soon and the number of those embracing the unique challenge of gluten-free is rising. And for that reason, there are many out there today, including those with celiac disease and food allergies, who can celebrate national pizza day today. So raise a slice to all the innovation that brought us all the saucy goodness.

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