Gluten-free firms make inroads into foodservice

02 March, 2011
Page 6 

Gluten-free bakery manufacturers are tipping foodservice as the next big market for their products as consumers search out restaurants, cafés and hotels that offer 'free from' menu options.

Gluten-free brands, such as Livwell, Genius and Dietary Specials (DS), are making initial moves beyond retail into the foodservice market in response to the growing demand.

According to DS research, 44% of people living with coeliac disease have given up eating out after struggling to find places that could cater for their needs. Meanwhile, tourism and hospitality website www.i-know.com reported seeing an 85% increase in people searching for gluten-free restaurants on its site last month compared to the month before.

DS launched a gluten-free foodservice range last month, including rolls, bread, biscuits, sausage rolls and multi-purpose flour mix. Retail brand manager Michelle Shinn said: "Our heritage is in supermarkets, but we see foodservice as the next big opportunity for gluten-free. We receive a huge number of enquiries from our customers each month, who struggle to find gluten-free foods when they eat out."

At United Central Bakeries, which manufactures the Genius gluten-free bread, managing director Paddy Cronin described the foodservice market as "an area with massive potential".

The company's bread is used by Starbucks in a gluten-free sandwich and has been listed by Brakes. Genius' sister gluten-free brand Livwell has also launched a foodservice range of rolls, breads and muffins.

"There is a great opportunity for a restaurant chain to launch a range of gluten-free options on its menu and really shout about it," he said. "It's already happening in the US, where some operators have had some really big wins."

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