62% of those asked said they thought it was necessary to cater for gluten-free customers, whilst 38% said the opposite.
Kathryn Miller, food policy lead at charity Coeliac UK, said: “It is wonderful to see such a high percentage considering gluten-free catering as a necessity. For the minority who don’t, it is estimated that the catering industry is missing out on £100m a year and so are missing out on this valuable and growing market.
“Whilst gluten-free meals are not essential for every customer, the decision on where to eat is driven by the customer with a gluten-free requirement, so if you can successfully cater for your gluten-free customers they will bring their friends and family with them.
According to figures from Coeliac UK, roughly one in every 100 Brits is estimated to have coeliac disease, which is caused by intolerance to gluten.
Symptoms of the disease can include bloating, diarrhoea, weight loss and in extreme cases hair loss and anaemia.
Stosie Madi, chef patron of the Parkers Arms, Newton in Bowland, said: “We’ve catered for all allergies and especially gluten-free – which is one of the most prevalent – since we started back in 2007. It’s no hassle, it just requires a little bit of thinking and prior planning.
“It’s really important because people go out and talk about it and will recommend you.”
She said whilst catering for gluten-free customers had not had a tremendous effect on the pub’s bottom line, it definitely made a difference because it had encouraged gluten-free customers to book parties.
“They know they’ll get something special and not just get their bog standard stuff thrown at them,” she added.