By Emma Hyatt
October 16, 2013
Attracting the gluten-conscious restaurant consumer provides an edge in a flat market and can be done with products that still appeal to the larger customer base.
Menu items labelled gluten-free are popping up at several top chains, neighbourhood independents, and specialty health-food cafés. Restaurant operators and suppliers are left wondering if they too should jump on the band wagon, how much menu space to give the trend, and with what types of foods to feature.
Chances are your restaurant is already participating in the gluten-free trend. Menus are full of naturally gluten-free products. Potatoes, rice, vegetables, salads (although may contain gluten additives) are already available to customers who know what they’re looking for. These items are just the most popular of a group of naturally gluten-free sides that are ordered in 44 per cent of restaurant visits. The problem is, this group of foods is showing no growth, trending alongside overall flat traffic at restaurants.
Some naturally gluten-free items are able to drive growth in this soft market. Innovating with salads, rice, sushi, hash browns, yogurt, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and beans may be all you need to cash in on the gluten-free trend. The benefit of these items is that they appeal to the every-day consumer, and tap into a wider variety of trend such as desire for variety, ethnic flavours, menu innovation, healthy options, and breakfast foods.