NY Yankee Teixeira goes gluten- and dairy-free, reclaims place among baseball’s elite. Coincidence?

NY Yankee Teixeira goes gluten- and dairy-free, reclaims place among baseball’s elite. Coincidence?

This past February, New York Yankee Mark Teixeira announced intentions to hit 30 home runs and collect 100 RBIs during the then-upcoming Major League Baseball season. Prior to 2012, these numbers would have been lofty yet attainable goals for a superstar of Teixeira’s stature. But in recent years the two time all-star first baseman appeared snakebitten having missed extensive time due to injuries that tarnished his reputation as one of baseball’s most feared sluggers.

Fast forward four months since his bold declaration, and Teixeira has proven himself to be a pinstriped prophet on pace to obliterate the goals he set with more than half the MLB season left to play. Based on interviews with various major sports media outlets, the secret to Teixeira’s bounce back season may well lie not only in his renewed weightlifting program, but also in significant changes to his diet. Namely, his decision to adopt a gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free lifestyle. The combination of weightlifting and his new “free from” diet have put Teixeira in what many have said is the best shape of his career. He’s packed on more than ten pounds of muscle while shedding body fat.

As great as the results have been for Teixeira, he isn’t the only one discovering the benefits of embracing “free from” foods and beverages. Many other celebrities-including Zooey Deschanel, Drew Brees, Jennifer Lawrence, and perhaps most famously Gwyneth Paltrow, among others-along with non-celebrity consumers are often voluntarily cutting out specific ingredients for the sake of their health. This includes eliminating not only gluten, dairy, and sugar, but also fat, GMOs, sodium, and food processing additives.

“Food avoidance has become a way of life for tens of millions of American consumers of all ages. For consumers with allergies and intolerances, avoiding certain food and ingredients is a matter of life and death. But for other consumers avoiding various foods is a matter of choice based on a desire to lose weight or to have an overall healthier life. Hence for the latter group, it’s not about dealing with specific allergies but rather a matter of optimizing health and also about seeking to create a quality of life based on eliminating negatives,” says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.

Food manufacturers, recognizing the opportunity to appeal to concerned consumers who also tend to be trendsetters for other consumers, are extremely accommodating to this shift toward food avoidances, reformulating products to eliminate those ingredients that are being shunned. Of course, food manufacturers have been reformulating their products for decades, especially products in which the fat, sugar, or salt contents needed to be reduced or eliminated in order to appeal to more health-conscious consumers. But there remains an opportunity for major food and beverage companies to become more active in producing "free from" products, advises Packaged Facts in Food Formulation Trends: Ingredients Consumers Avoid.

The popularity and momentum of the “free from” movement may be best exemplified by the enduring and thriving presence of gluten-free foods and beverages.  Packaged Facts’ July/August 2014 survey data published in the 2015 report Gluten-Free Foods in the U.S., 5th Edition reveal that more than a third of consumers claim gluten-free/wheat-free is an important factor when they are shopping for food. In addition, a quarter of survey respondents had purchased or used food products labeled gluten-free in the three months prior to the survey.

Likewise, in the retail sector, sales of gluten-free foods posted an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34% over the five-year period ended in 2014, when market sales reached $973 million. The market is projected to exceed $2 billion in sales by 2019.

Add eitherGluten-Free Foods in the U.S., 5th Edition or Food Formulation Trends: Ingredients Consumers Avoidto your intelligence library and receive a 5% discount during our promotional period effective through December 15, 2015. Use code PFFOODAVOID2015.

-- Daniel Granderson