Capitalize on a consumer need and trend.
Providing gluten free menu items is a trend and need that’s not going away any time soon. According to the NPD Group, there was a 275% increase in gluten free menu item claims from 2009 to 2012, and Mintel Menu Insights reported more than 200 million restaurant visits last year included the ordering of “gluten free” or “wheat-free” food.
Restaurateurs, operators and administrators simply can’t afford to ignore the dietary restrictions of guests or students with gluten-intolerance or Celiac disease. However, there are some simple techniques or alternatives to devoting a lot of time or money to gluten free innovation.
Start by talking with your foodservice provider about your needs and creating a strategy for how to invest in accommodating your patrons’ gluten-free needs without hurting quality or your bottom line. In the case of Marzetti Foodservice products and services, we offer a large selection of gluten free dressing and sauces gluten that can meet demand right away.
Simple menu changes can also provide gluten free options. Evaluate your existing menu and look for items that can easily be made gluten free, for example:
- Use lettuce or corn tortillas instead of a bun/bread for burgers or other sandwiches
- Substitute nuts for croutons in salads
- Try spaghetti squash or rice noodles instead of traditional pasta
Finally, de-emphasize the need for gluten items on your existing menu while also considering simple gluten-free dishes that can be substituted on your core offerings. For example, try increasing the flavor of meat dishes with unique sauces and marinades like Pomegranate Glaze, or add a hearty black bean or spicy quinoa salad that is packed with flavor.
Many guests will ask if you have gluten free alternatives or substitutes. When your updated menu is ready, don’t forget to make it easy for them to find that you have options that fit their needs. Two of the most basic ways are to update the menu in your restaurant or cafeteria and add the gluten-free version on your website. Guests will appreciate the flexibility and sensitivity you have, making them likely to come back and share their dining experience with others.