In the 70s, we avoided sugar. In the 80‘s, it was fat. Then fat was in and carbs were out. Today, roughly 29% of Americans are trying to avoid gluten in their diet. Some say it is simply an expansion of the low carb trend but an estimated 21,000 people suffer from celiac disease or are gluten sensitive. For others, it’s a lifestyle choice of wellness. Chances are, there is at least one person at every table in your restaurant avoiding gluten. And the amount of money people are spending on gluten-free products is staggering. According to the market research group, Packaged Facts, the gluten-free market brought in $4.2 billion last year and estimates that number to be $6.6 billion by 2017. So this presents a great opportunity for restaurant owners to differentiate themselves and offer their customers more benefit.
Here are a few ways to start a gluten free program in your restaurant:
- Analyze your menu and recipes to identify which items are gluten free or easily modified. Seek expert advice on what to avoid and add creative substitutions.
- Obtain training for all staff and management on how to safely execute a gluten free program. The National Foundation of Celiac Awareness offers a training video for restaurants.
- Create a separate environment for the production of gluten free items.
- Inform your customers through printed materials, social media and by registering with mobile apps like FindMeGlutenFree and AllergyEats.
Restaurants that add gluten free options typically experience an 8% increase in sales as a result. So it pays to put the time and effort to into developing a program for your restaurant.
Originally published 4/16/13