Gluten-free Report

10 things you need to know about serving gluten-free food in pubs

By Daniel Woolfson and Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Gluten-free food can bring a whole new stream of revenue
Gluten-free food can bring a whole new stream of revenue

Related tags Gluten-free diet

Gluten-free food is one of the most enduring food trends to hit the UK's eating-out sector this century, but what do you need to know to implement it in your pub? Here are the Publican's Morning Advertiser's top 10 things you need to know.

1) What is gluten-free?


A rising number of operators have moved to accommodate the considerable number of customers who now omit gluten - a protein found in wheat and some grains - from their diets.

An estimated one in every 100 Brits suffers from the condition, the symptoms of which can include nausea, bloating, incontinence and in rare cases, anaemia.

2) Why do people eat gluten-free food?


While many customers order gluten-free options because they suffer from coeliac disease, almost half of Brits who follow the diet do so as a lifestyle choice.

A recent Mintel survey reported that 30% of customers omitting gluten from their diets do so because it makes them feel 'healthier' or 'better'. Just 10% did so because they were diagnosed with an allergy.

3) What are the perceived benefits? 


Many people choose to eat gluten-free foods foe health reasons, according to Matthew Grant, sales and marketing director of the menu management app Kafoodle.

He claimed: "It can also help reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers and other health-related conditions, such as diabetes."

4) What are the problems of serving gluten-free?


Perceived problems around gluten-free range from the perception that they are unappealing, while Mintel analyst Helena Childe argues they can also been perceived as bland and expensive.

5) What's the value of gluten-free food to customers?


While there are arguably some downfalls when it comes to perception, the upsides to a good gluten-free offer include value.

The total market value for gluten-free food in the UK was estimated to be worth about £365m in 2014 and is expected to be rise by 50% by 2019. Also, customers will pay more for a gluten-free option.

6) Should it be on the menu?


According to a recent poll of Publican's Morning Advertiser ​readers, 62% of those asked believed it was necessary to cater for this sector. Yet, research by Knorr claimed that almost a third of operators asked didn't have a gluten-free option on the menu.

7) How do pubs stand-up?


Last year the Publican's Morning Advertiser ​reported that big pub chains were failing to take advantage of this gold mine of potential customers. Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, director of the Free-From Awards, said certain high-end pubs got it, but the rest were lagging and missing out on thousands of customers.

8) When you've got a good gluten-free offer...


To ensure a smooth gluten-free operation, Mark McCulloch, ceo of marketing and branding company We Are Spectacular, suggests having a gluten-free champion in the kitchen.

He also suggests creating gluten-free events, such as 'Wheat-free Wednesdays' to create demand on particular days.

9) Be vocal about about the offer


People with allergies tend to be very vocal on social media. Sites such as @gfliving​ and @AllergyUK1​ have a loyal following and shout loudly when they find a venue that happily accommodates gluten-free and other allergens.

Adopting a strong social media strategy could mean the difference between success and failure.

10) A few small adjustments to the menu


Small adjustments to you normal dishes can make them gluten-free, experts claim.

Using corn flour to thicken sauces and stews rather than normal (wheat) flour and keeping a range of gluten-free breads and cakes in the freezer to defrost at short-notice are a nice touch.

However, bear in mind the prices of some ingredients, such as the binding agent xanthan gum, which can cost two or three times more than ordinary products

Read the full Gluten-Free Report.

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