July 18, 2012

More Customers See Gluten-Free Foods as Healthier Choice, Vitacost Survey Finds

BOCA RATON, Fla., July 18, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- If it seems like "gluten free" is the new dieting catchphrase, you're not imagining it. The vast majority of consumers responding to a new survey by Vitacost.com, Inc. (Nasdaq:VITC), a leading online retailer of health and wellness products, said they choose to eat gluten-free foods. Close to half of the 1,484 individuals who responded said they follow an exclusively gluten-free diet, while 38% choose "some" gluten-free products. Those who don't eat gluten-free foods say the products are too expensive.

The nationwide survey asked individuals about their efforts to follow a gluten-free diet and delved into reasons why consumers avoid gluten. Forty percent said they choose gluten-free foods because they tend to have an upset stomach after eating foods containing this protein, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. Meanwhile, 31% choose gluten-free foods because they see them as the "healthier" option. Only 13% of those taking the survey said they had celiac disease, a condition diagnosed with a blood test. Vitacost.com is a corporate sponsor of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), an advocacy organization for celiac patients and those following a lifelong gluten-free diet.

"At Vitacost.com, we have seen increased interest in our gluten-free products and conducted this survey to better understand consumer needs and concerns around this specialty diet," stated David Zucker, Ph.D., Chief Marketing Officer of Vitacost.com, which sells more than 2,500 gluten-free food items at discount prices—with inventory growing weekly. "The results of the survey make us more committed than ever to offering gluten-free foods at affordable prices, so that people can better meet their health goals."

Ironman champion Amy Marsh, who along with her triathlete husband, Brandon Marsh, writes the "Ask the Triathletes" swim-bike-run blog for Vitacost.com, said she follows a gluten-free diet because she feels bloated and sick to her stomach after eating gluten. "Not feeling bloated is always a good thing during a race," added Marsh, who placed third among women at the Ironman Vineman 70.3 held July 15, 2012 in Sonoma County, California.

Alice Bast, Founder and President of NFCA, said that Amy Marsh's experience is increasingly common, as celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders are a problem for millions of Americans. "For these individuals, the gluten-free diet is a lifelong need, and retailers like Vitacost are stepping in to meet the demand."

For those customers who see gluten-free products as healthier, but not affordable, Vitacost.com carries an extensive selection of gluten-free products ranging from pancake mix to lasagna noodles to toothpaste, priced up to 50% off retail. Vitacost also offers steep discounts on its vast array of healthy living products including vitamins, supplements, baby care essentials, pet products, sports nutrition and natural beauty and home care products with orders over $49 shipped for free. Currently, Vitacost.com sells more than 35,000 items on its website, with hundreds of new products added each week. 

About Vitacost.com, Inc.

Vitacost.com, Inc. (Nasdaq:VITC) is a leading online retailer of health and wellness products, including dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and other botanicals, amino acids and metabolites, as well as cosmetics, organic body and personal care products, pet products, sports nutrition and health foods. Vitacost.com, Inc. sells these products directly to consumers through its website, www.vitacost.com. Vitacost.com, Inc. strives to offer its customers the broadest selection of healthy living products, while providing superior customer service and timely and accurate delivery.

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Source: Vitacost.com

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