Accessibility to gluten-free products made by gluten-free companies varies from city to city, region to region, and, naturally, from store to store. The ease in which you can find gluten-free products locally depends on the unique demographics of your city. But regardless of where you live, visualize an inverted pyramid and divide it into thirds. The top third of the pyramid consists of stores that cater to the consumer interested in natural living and special diets.
The majority of gluten-free products on the market typically fall into this category, as they are made without unnatural ingredients such as preservatives, artificial flavorings, colorings, and hydrogenated oils. Large chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have ample shelf space to carry a full array of gluten-free products, and their customer base supports the large variety and quantities stocked on the shelves. Smaller, independently owned and operated natural food stores can often carry only as many gluten-free products as their shelf space and customer base will support.
In the middle section of the pyramid are large commercial grocery chains such as Albertson’s, Kroger, and Publix that specialize in carrying the national supermarket brands. The natural foods sections in these stores are typically small, carrying only a tiny selection of gluten-free products, if any at all. Wal-Mart claims to stock hundreds of gluten-free products, but the majority of these products are not from dedicated gluten-free companies.
At the bottom of the pyramid are the specialty food stores that carry high-priced gourmet products, big box discount stores, convenience stores, and gas stations. You will not successfully fulfill your shopping list or meet your traveling food needs at these stores.