Annual survey by the National Restaurant Association shows steady climb in gluten-free interest.
Gluten-free dining is just getting started, according to results from the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual chef survey. “What’s Hot in 2012” ranked “gluten-free/food allergy conscious” as the No. 7 restaurant trend for the coming year, up one spot from No. 8 in 2011 and two spots from No. 9 in 2010.
According to the report, 75% of chef respondents indicated that gluten-free is a “Hot Trend,” while 10% said it is “Yesterday’s News.” Fifteen percent of chefs believe gluten-free and food allergy awareness will be a “Perennial Favorite.”
Other trends related to gluten-free include non-wheat noodles/pasta (quinoa, rice, buckwheat) as the No. 1 trend in Sides/Starches and the No. 29 trend overall, gluten-free beer as the No. 39 trend overall, and quinoa as the No. 40 trend overall.
The findings reflect what many gluten-free diners have reported anecdotally: More restaurants are adding gluten-free options to their menus or offering to accommodate special dietary needs. With these additions, however, come the risks of cross-contamination, as many restaurants do not have proper gluten-free protocols in place.
As gluten-free climbs the ranks in restaurant trends, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) urges restaurants to get trained in gluten-free preparation and handling. Gluten-free restaurant training is available through NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program at www.CeliacLearning.com/kitchens.