Easy Ways to Adapt to Today’s Fastest-Growing Food Segment

Whether a lifestyle choice or a health-related necessity, gluten-free menu choices are in heavy demand and the trend is slated to pick up greater speed in 2013. In fact, the market for gluten-free offerings is one of the fastest growing foodservice segments today, moving nearly hand-in-hand with its retail counterpart, which is expanding nearly 15 percent annually (according to market research group, Spins Inc.).

For some, the gluten-free lifestyle results from celiac disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy. Triggered by foods that contain wheat, rye, and barley gluten, this abnormal immune system reaction against gluten protein can cause intestinal inflammation and damage to the digestive system. It’s serious and more common than you might think; it’s estimated today that nearly three million people in the U.S. suffer from celiac disease. Other customers are turning to the health benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle that just simply makes them feel better.

Why Bother?

Many believe that celiac disease is under-diagnosed and that customers showing up with more food intolerances will increase as physicians better learn how gluten affects the digestive system. The truth is, you don’t have to cater your entire menu to this growing group, but restaurants that display a concern for dietary restrictions often get noticed for their effort. Customers are likely to spread the word and return for more when you’re one of the few that accommodate with delicious and creative alternatives.

Develop Easy Substitutions

We know it’s not easy to meet all the unique needs of your customers’ requests – but by identifying a few carefully prepared items on the menu you’ll remove some of the pressure on the kitchen to create custom orders. As chefs continue to learn about gluten-free ingredients, many find simple substitutions can make a gluten-filled meal gluten-free, like using corn tortillas instead of flour for tacos or burritos. Before you designate a few dishes as gluten-free consider a word of caution: carefully read labels. Sauces and marinades, garnishes and even your prep location and equipment can thwart your gluten-free dietary claims.

For more information on adapting your menu or to source gluten-free products, contact your Jordano’s Account Executive.