Bakery Products Boom in China, but Not Gluten-free

Gluten-free products are a common sight along the aisles of supermarkets in countries like the United States and Australia, but unlike many other West-oriented health fads, the gluten-free craze has yet to cross the ocean to gain traction in China, according to Xinhuanet.com.

Despite China’s increasing bread consumption and growing awareness for allergies in recent years, local entrepreneurs in the gluten-free scene have struggled to win over the culinary-conscious Chinese.

Studies have suggested that China is not exempt from gluten allergies. A survey conducted by the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University found 6.5% of 62 patients suffering from chronic diarrhea had celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes gluten intolerance.

As China embraces a double-digit annual growth in its bakery industry in recent years, driven by the rising popularity of Western-style bread and cakes, this “Western problem,” as some observers call it, has begun to attract more attention.

For many Chinese, allergies to conventional foods that contain gluten like wheat and soy sauce remain hard to fathom. In Chinese, the term “gluten-free” is rarely used, with most people having never heard of the phrase.

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