One topic that was brought up several times at the General Mills Gluten-Free Summit was the high cost of gluten-free products. Why should a gluten-free cake mix cost twice as much as a gluten cake mix and only make half as much cake? I’m not trying to pick on General Mills here. This is a problem with all packaged gluten-free foods.
I understand that gluten-free products use ingredients that differ from their gluten containing counterparts. Since I mostly bake from scratch, I know that purchasing gluten-free flours and starches is more expensive than buying wheat flour. For that reason, I would expect to pay a little more for gluten-free products. A little more. Not a whole lot more. Having said that, though, it seems that the prices I pay for those baking ingredients are higher than they need to be. Why is potato starch so much more expensive than corn starch?
More and more people are embarking on a gluten-free diet every day, and the gluten-free market is booming. Demand for gluten-free products is up, but it is still only a fraction of the demand for gluten filled products. For that reason I would also expect gluten-free products to cost a little more. A little more. Not a whole lot more. While we’re on the subject, since demand for gluten-free products has gone up in recent years, shouldn’t prices come down a little?
Another issue raised at the summit is that many gluten-free products do not go on sale. A few companies offer coupons for their products, but very few.
Where That Leaves Us
I think a lot of us end up feeling that we are being taken advantage of. We have to eat gluten-free, and if we want packaged food (including single ingredients such as flour) we are limited in our choices, all of which are overpriced. We pay $5 – $7 for a very small loaf of bread because it’s good, and it’s better than the other very small loaves of gluten-free bread that sell for the same price. We either pay the high prices or go without.
I would personally love to see a company provide safe, certified gluten-free products and ingredients at prices that are competitive with regular prices. If the products are good, I believe the gluten-free community would flock to that company and show their support by buying their products. What they would lose in profit on each product would more than be made up for in the volume they would sell.
What are your thoughts on the the high cost of gluten-free products?