What the increase of specialty diets means for holiday consumption (+ gluten-free and keto-friendly baking recipes)

By Sara Sprenger

7 min read

December 13, 2021

Specialty diets and the holidays… The struggle is real for both you and your wellness consumers. These health-focused consumers are looking to boost immunity, improve gut health, reduce sugar intake and more. To do this, online and in-store shoppers are searching for products with specific ingredients and functional benefits, such as milk alternatives, plant-based proteins, and gluten-free and keto-friendly options this holiday season.  

How can you make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for? Here are some ideas and what you should know.

The increase of specialty diets

Specialty diets have moved beyond the Atkins and South Beach diets of the early 2000s. Today, consumers are buying food with health and wellness in mind — from lifestyle choices to medical needs or concerns. When they shop for food, they’re looking for specific product attributes — ketogenic, low sugar, gluten-free, etc. CPG manufacturers and retailers that make these products, have an opportunity to highlight these specific attributes on packaging to make it easier for consumers to easily identify and find what they’re looking for.

The opportunity is significant: 95% of CPG products that qualify for the most frequently searched product attributes do not appear in search results. This leads to dissatisfied, disengaged customers and missed revenue.
Source: NielsenIQ’s report: Harness total wellness to grow revenue report 

According to a NielsenIQ infographic, the health and wellness segment is projected to increase from $175 billion in sales today to $203 billion in sales by 2023 in the U.S. alone. Studies have shown that the majority of consumers and specialty dieters are willing to spend more on products that have their desired attributes, and 40% of shoppers have switched to products with more robust attribute information in the last 12 months.

Clean living holiday grocery shopping

Shoppers want to better understand if a product aligns with their values as they shop online and in-store. Brands that take the time to highlight elements — like clean-living, ketogenic, gluten-free, organic and plant-based choices, for example — will not only meet this demand but win brand loyalty, resulting in more purchases over time and a better bottom line.

Manufacturers can attract these consumers by: 

  • Being transparent about ingredients 
  • Claiming clean living and other attributes clearly on product packaging and online descriptions 
  • Using imagery in packaging design (like gluten- or sugar-free icons)
  • Keeping up with relevant search terms as trends change (people may search “keto” one month but “low-carb” the next)
  • Tracking progress adapt to consumer demands with enhanced insights 
  • Finding weakness within your brand where you could do better identifying product attributes

Gluten-free and Keto-friendly holiday recipes

With this shift to specialty diets during the holidays it makes sense that more and more consumers are looking for more gluten-free and keto-friendly recipes when cooking dinner and baking cookies. Whether you’re looking for clean-living holiday recipes yourself or you’re a manufacturer trying to get your product in front of consumers, here are a some gluten-free and keto-friendly recipes that contain some of the top ingredients health and wellness consumers are looking for this holiday season:

Gluten-Free + Keto-Friendly baking recipes

Gluten-Free recipes

Almond Flour Fudge Brownies
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Yield: 16 Brownies

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350º. Place the butter and chocolate chips in a large glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water. Whisk together until the butter and chocolate are melted and well combined. Set aside and let cool for five minutes.

Step 2: In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.

Step 3: Whisk the cooled chocolate and butter mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. When combined, mix into the dry ingredients. Pour into a buttered 8-by-8-inch baking pan and bake for 25 minutes.

You can find this and other gluten-free baking recipes here.

Keto-Friendly recipes

Keto Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Yield: 18 Cookie Sandwiches

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 1/4 c. keto-friendly granulated sugar (such as Swerve)
  • 3/4 c. dark chocolate chips (such as Lily’s)
  • Cooking spray


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk the egg with the butter, heavy cream, and vanilla. Stir in the almond flour, salt, and Swerve. 

Step #2: Fold the chocolate chips into the cookie batter.  Form the batter into 1″ balls and arrange 3″ apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Flatten the balls with the bottom of a glass that has been lightly greased with cooking spray.

Step #3: Bake until the cookies are lightly golden, about 17 to 19 minutes.

Step #4: Let cookies cool for 10 min. Once completely cooled, add your favorite ice cream. 

You can find other keto-friendly baking recipes here.

How manufacturers can capitalize this holiday season 

Now that you know what consumers are looking for and how they are searching for these products, it’s time for you to get ahead of your competition by knowing you’re providing the packaging and attributes specific information. One of the best ways to do that is to utilize Total Wellness.

Total Wellness helps businesses unlock growth opportunities related to wellness and lifestyle by meeting consumer needs and product preferences. Using data driven insights and gaining access to ​​500 Product Insight attributes across expertly curated attribute groups, businesses can start winning their market space. Take the first step in making this holiday a jolly one by requesting a demo here.

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