Market Overview

52% More Restaurants to Offer Gluten-Free Dishes in 2014


As the demand for healthy and organic products grows, the hype of gluten-free food is inching its way into the mainstream market, prompting more than half of restaurant chains in the United States to offer their own gluten-free dishes.

Restaurant supply-chain co-op SpenDifference’s menu price survey revealed that 52 percent of restaurant chains will be offering gluten-free menus for their health-conscious patients this year.

QSRWeb said the survey also revealed that 37 percent of the participants want to serve locally sourced ingredients and menu items while 13 percent are eyeing organic food.

The third menu price survey said nine percent of surveyed restaurants are already offering organic products, 36 percent use local products, 53 percent offer light- and low-calorie options, and 55 percent have gluten-free items.

Specialty restaurants like The Original Soupman (OTC: SOUP) have come up with their own gluten-free menus. Visiting Soupman’s website would show a list of their gluten-free soup variants including: Manhattan clam chowder, vegetarian chili, butternut squash, tomato basil, tomato wild rice, tomato zucchini, so many beans, garden vegetable, lentil and cream of asparagus.

Soupman is most popular for its soup kitchens in New York, especially after being alluded to in the sitcom Seinfeld, but it has also expanded in other States. Its food trucks and delicatessen franchises also offer some of the gluten-free items.

Lentil soup is also being sold in supermarkets, through Soupman’s packaged soup line. The item can easily be bought in 4,000 stores all over the country or through Amazon and comes in Tetra Pak form.

SpenDifference president and chief executive officer Maryanne Rose said the growing demand for low-calorie and gluten-free menu items will “be with us for a long time.

"Operators recognize that a growing number of customers have health-related dietary restrictions, and they are revamping their menus to include choices for them, as well as for those who simply want more healthful choices,” she said.

Mintel, a market research firm, said the gluten-free industry grew by 44 percent from 2011 to 2013. It pegs the industry’s size at P10.5 billion.

Mintel said 24 percent of the consumers that participated in the survey are either following a gluten-free diet or have someone in their household who does.

A recent report from Research and Markets predicts the global gluten-free industry to have a revenue compound annual growth rate of 11.4 percent from 2013 to 2018. It also expects gluten-free food to grow in volume by 9.9 percent.

However, the SpenDifference survey also revealed that 11 percent of limited-service change will reduce their organic items this year. Rose said it might be because of supply issues.

"Better-for-you items are niche products, and movement on these is not as high as mainstay menu offerings. Low-volume movement adds to freight costs, and distributors can have a hard time stocking the items,” she explained.

She said smaller restaurant chains should work closely with distributors to solve the problem or consider finding a local source.

An important insight included in the report is that although the gluten-free trend is pushing the price of wheat and grain products higher, resulting in higher menu prices, health-conscious consumers are willing to pay additional.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.


Related Articles

View Comments and Join the Discussion!