Catering for Food Allergies: How to Capture a £100m Market

Catering for Food Allergies: How to Capture a £100m Market

If you were offered a £100m-a-year contract, would you sign? The fact is, it’s there for the asking, according to charity organisation Coeliac UK. But many caterers are missing their opportunity to break into an enormous niche market that continues to grow: gluten-free food.

Getting Your Slice of the (Gluten-free) Pie

Sound like risky business? Don’t know where to start? It’s not as hard as you think. The amount of information available online, including recipes, has exploded in recent years. What’s more, at least 630,000 UK diners (perhaps up to 1.13 million) are gluten-intolerant, so it’s well worth the effort to look into.

We’ve gathered some brief information about gluten, as well as links to resources to help you painlessly build gluten-free catering into your business.

30-second Allergy Guide

•    Gluten (a natural protein)
     Found in – wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut (a similar protein is also found in oats)
     Gluten-free – rice, potatoes, lentils

Detailed food chart here

Gluten-free breads, pasta, biscuits, flour and more are readily available from food suppliers.

People with coeliac disease (an intestinal disorder, not an allergy) tolerate almost no gluten. To cater for coeliacs, Coeliac UK recommends:

•    Making sure catering staff are informed about which foods are gluten-free
•    Marking menu items with ‘GF’ or similar to show they are gluten-free
•    Buying ingredients from reputable suppliers
•    Ensuring that gluten-free foods do not come into contact with surfaces, catering equipment, utensils, or cooking oils that have been used for gluten-containing foods, so that they are not contaminated.

Beverages made from wheat, rye or barley (such as beer) also contain gluten.

Recipe and Catering Resources recipes
UK Food Standards Agency

Want to know more? The Allergy & Free From Show 2012, including cooking demonstrations, will be held in London and Liverpool in May.