Like food manufacturers who have been launching new retail products to address consumers’ changing dietary needs, restaurant are increasingly expanding menus to include gluten and cholesterol-free, low sugar options, says a new report.
According to market research group Technomic, restaurant operators have jumped onto the Free From trend for the benefit of diners with food intolerances, allergies and those who’ve simply changed their dietary lifestyles.
Between 2010 and 2011, for example, menu items billed as Gluten Free experienced a 61 percent jump with the rise in public awareness of Celiac disease, a digestive disorder that damages the lining of the intestine and causes diarrhea and abdominal pain.But it’s not just people with medical conditions who are requesting gluten-free dishes. Many consumers are voluntarily making the switch for health reasons as well, Technomic points out.
And while most consumers polled 73 percent said restaurants should be transparent about the nutritional content of dishes, including fat, sodium and sugar, results showed that women felt more strongly about menu transparency than men.
Analysts culled consumer data from various Technomic Consumer Trend Reports to arrive at results.
Meanwhile, both United Kingdom based research groups Leatherhead and Mintel predict that free-from foods will continue to experience rising popularity in 2012.
In the United Kingdom, for instance, Mintel forecasts that free-from foods will grow from sales of £303 million (€347 million) a year to £519 million (€595 million) in the United Kingdom by 2016, and that dairy free products will lead the charge.