Gluten free food takes advantage of allergies

Amelia Sabol, Staffer

I went gluten free about three years ago, and believe me, I was not excited about it. After being gluten free became a fad, options became more available in supermarkets around the country. So, for a gluten free novice like me, it was pretty exciting to walk through the grocery aisles and see so many options. Unfortunately, I became disheartened pretty quickly.

For example, it’s no secret that pizza is a universally loved food. As a person with a gluten allergy, I was very worried about my new prospects when I had to become gluten free. Gluten free pizza is sub-par in comparison to its gluten full version. 

Unfortunately, good gluten free food, pizza especially, is insanely expensive. Honestly, it feels like Rumplestilskin is going to trade me a decent gluten free pizza for my first born child sometimes. At a collection of local pizza establishments, there was a three dollar average upcharge for gluten free pizza. Although this doesn’t seem like much, it is actually an average of a 40 percent upcharge. Continually, there is also a serious size difference. The average medium sized pizza is about 12 inches in diameter, but a gluten-free pizza is 10 inches. So, not only are people being charged more, but they are receiving less. 

But it’s not only pizza establishments that have this issue. Almost all gluten free products have a serious upcharge. For example, gluten free crackers have an 80 percent upcharge from the same brand. But it’s even worse when you take into account the amount that comes in each box. The same brand of Good and Gather crackers contain 7 ounces in a regular box versus 3.5 ounces in a gluten-free box. And gluten-free bread has an even worse margin. Again, for a very similar product from the same brand, there was a 47 percent upcharge. 

My biggest problem with this is that it feels as if allergies are becoming a luxury item. People have no choice but to purchase the products that are safe for them to eat, but are being charged an absolutely absurd amount. For students with allergies that are going to college next year, they, like everyone else, will be facing a serious upcharge on simple products that are generally a necessity. 

In fact, in a world where almost half of consumers have some sort of allergy, shoppers spend an average of 5 percent more on groceries each month than their allergy-free counterparts.  The average American family spends about $15,500 on groceries each year, according to the USDA. This would mean that families with allergies would spend another $1000 on average. It feels like having an allergy is becoming a luxury item. 

As mentioned before, almost 50 percent of all American consumers have some sort of allergy or food-sensitivity. It is surprising that even with that amount of people, consumers are still up charged at a pretty steep margin. In order to curb this issue, consumers could start making these items at home. Although it would take more time, it will be cheaper in the long run and could create some pretty great memories.