To coincide with the week, we compiled a list of top tips for operators wanting to cash in.
1. Don’t poison anyone (seriously)
The Publican’s Morning Advertiser recently reported that some operators could be at risk of accidentally serving ‘hidden’ gluten to coeliac customers in chips, as a survey claimed roughly 60% of consumers did not know chips were not necessarily free from the protein, which can cause serious health issues in coeliac sufferers. Make sure you check the labels on any ordered in food you suspect make contain gluten.
2. Work the ‘healthy option’ angle
Whether there really are significant health benefits for non-coeliacs eating gluten-free or not, dishes that swap wheat-based ingredients for vegetables and protein often have a lower calorific content than their counterparts. Advertising dishes like this can be a great way to attract health conscious customers who might not want a typically indulgent pub meal.
3. Avoid kitchen nightmares
Some coeliacs are more sensitive to gluten than others. This means that for some customers, even the smallest bit of gluten could have unpleasant consequences. And we’re not just talking stomach aches here – in serious cases, symptoms can include diarrhoea, hair loss and anaemia. If you’ve got a gluten free food offer, it’s fundamental to ensure no cross contamination happens in the kitchen. That means washing every surface, pan or any piece of prep kit properly before using it and generally having the eyes of a hawk when it comes to your wheat products. One simple tip is to use different coloured prep boards for gluten-free menu options.
4. Get certified
Coeliac UK currently offers gluten-free accreditation to operators that want to highlight the fact they can safely cater to sufferers. Having this under your belt is a great way to attract a significant amount of customers – a recent study reported that despite 40% of respondents having recently purchased a gluten-free item from a menu, demand for a greater variation of gluten-free options was higher than ever. Tap into that desire and you could see profits rise.
5. Don’t forget dessert
41% of respondents found current gluten-free dessert options boring or tasteless. Get imaginative – you could try dishes such as poached fruits, free-from chocolate cakes, homemade ice-creams and frozen yoghurts.
6. Lastly, don’t be shy
Catering to coeliac customers or those on the diet may seem like a chore. In fact, it’s an opportunity to attract new customers and improve the quality of offer for some existing ones. Most importantly, remember that gluten-free doesn’t just mean ‘salad’. Removing gluten from a dish can leave room to experiment and play around with new tastes, textures and presentation. Who knows, you might even end up as a quinoa convert.