Unilever Food Solutions - Gluten-free is here to stay

01/08/2016 - 07:00
More and more operators have come to realise that gluten-free isn’t a passing fad or trend, but a lucrative niche in the market. Leon Mills, Knorr marketing manager, provides an insight into how our industry is responding to this movement

“Gluten-free is a big topic in our industry at the moment. Barely a day passes without it being in the headlines and a staggering 13% of the UK population now follow a gluten-free diet. But for people with coeliac disease, it isn’t a lifestyle choice – it’s the only way to manage a serious medical condition. And for busy chefs in an already complex environment, it can seem like just another thing to think about.

Some 74% of people with coeliac disease would eat out more often if they were sure of a safe gluten-free option. But with 75% fearing cross contamination in the kitchen, gaining the trust of coeliacs is extremely important if operators are to capitalise.

That’s why Coeliac UK – the national charity for people with coeliac disease – has created its own gluten-free accreditation and ‘GF’ logo. Widely trusted, 84% of people with coeliac disease say the logo makes them feel safe to eat somewhere. To get accredited, all operators need to do is follow the simple step-by-step instructions in the new KNORR guide. Created with the help of Coelaic UK, the guide shows operators how to get their kitchens set up safely and achieve Coeliac UK’s sales-boosting gluten-free accreditation.

Marc Warde, owner of Niche food & drink, said: “I was diagnosed as coeliac about two years ago. When I was getting my diagnosis, I contacted Coeliac UK for advice and guidance. Once I was diagnosed, I knew that was the recognised brand for people with coeliac disease or looking for gluten-free foods. Therefore, we decided – it’s all very well being gluten-free – but we wanted to be gluten-free accredited.

“Since we became a gluten-free restaurant our turnover has doubled.  I think it’s really easy just to think a bit harder and have a menu that everyone can eat from and enjoy. Just it happens to be gluten-free. That’s what we’ve done here, created food that happens to be gluten-free that everyone can enjoy.”

Kasia Kendzia, shop manager at Beyond Bread Gluten-Free Bakery said: “For the past 3-4 months we’ve been getting busier and busier, which is fantastic. I do believe more customers come here because we are accredited by Coeliac UK. It makes them feel safe and sure they can eat here.”

Leon Mills, marketing manager for KNORR, said: “Our first guide showed operators how simple it could be to make great tasting gluten-free meals. However, we know that many operators think getting their kitchen set up properly is the biggest challenge. So we’ve created a second guide to show how straightforward it can be. The guide can be downloaded at www.knorrglutenfree.co.uk.”

Kathryn Miller, head of food policy for Coeliac UK, added: “We know eating out safely is a top concern for people with coeliac disease, who must follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. We developed our GF accreditation scheme in 2012 to help the catering industry to deliver good quality menu choices for people with coeliac disease.

“We are delighted to now have around 3,000 venues on the scheme demonstrating that businesses are recognising the importance of catering for this market. By providing gluten-free options, venues acquire passing trade as well as customers that are willing to go out of their way to eat at an establishment they know they can trust. The GF accreditation scheme can drive incremental business and secure a loyal customer base.”

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