Gluten Free: The most requested special diet

Wednesday, 15 July, 2020

The latest industry research from Nestlé Professional shows ‘gluten free’ tops the list of special dietary requests in Australian food service, yet one in three hospitality workers say they have never received training in providing gluten free menu items!

As hospitality starts reopen, special meals will continue to be a priority for many food service customers, so it’s important to ensure hospitality staff feel comfortable and confident to provide gluten free meals their customers can really trust.


Read on to find out why gluten free needs to become a priority and how you can be ahead of the curve as you re-open for business…



The latest findings reveal that gluten free food requests are five times greater than nut and peanut free meals, and seven times more requested than dairy and lactose free meals combined.


While the survey found encouraging signs the hospitality industry is providing more choice for consumers who request gluten free meals, for some hospitality staff, gluten is still seen as a fad rather than a serious allergen. 


With the majority of hospitality respondents predicting that gluten free requests will continue to increase across the country, Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Brand Nutritionist at Nestlé Professional, Ms Karen Kingham, said the hospitality industry has a chance to re-prioritise and improve service to customers needing special diets, ensuring gluten is no longer overlooked as a serious allergen.


“For many consumers the avoidance of gluten is a medical necessity rather than a lifestyle choice. With an estimated 3.1 million Australians (1 in 12) requesting gluten free foods when eating out, we need to make it as easy as possible for hospitality to meet this demand,” Ms Kingham said.


“With the vast majority of hospitality staff (90%) wanting access to better training in gluten free, we have launched an updated second edition to the Practical Guide to Gluten Free in Food Service. As a company with a growing portfolio of products to cater to specific dietary needs, we really want to support those in food service to deliver best practice in gluten free - from sourcing and segregation right through to service,” she said.



Cathy Di Bella, Partnerships and Sponsorship Manager at Coeliac Australia, said the odds of having one gluten free person amongst a group of diners is on the rise, and hospitality could be missing out on meeting the needs of a large proportion of potential customers by not providing attractive gluten free options.


“If you can’t accommodate that one gluten free guest, you’re actually missing out on the opportunity to cater for the whole group,” Ms Di Bella said.


Ms Di Bella said we need to address the lack of trust gluten free diners have in food service providers’ ability to serve genuine gluten free meals, so they can enjoy eating out without fear of getting ill and support the industry as it reopens.


Mark Clayton, Executive Chef for Nestlé Professional, acknowledged that providing genuine gluten free foods in a food service setting can be challenging for kitchen staff.


“We want to ensure that, with the revival of the industry, hospitality staff have the tools, training and quality products they need to confidently provide great tasting gluten free meals their customers can trust and enjoy,” Mr Clayton said.


“With case study scenarios and step by step solutions, Nestlé’s gluten free guide helps break down some of the biggest barriers to providing gluten free meals, including managing cross contamination and staff training,” he said.

The second edition, of Your Practical Guide to Gluten Free in Food Service supports the Nestlé Professional’s portfolio of gluten free food products and has been developed with the support of Coeliac Australia. The updated, educational guide can be downloaded HERE



Ref: National industry survey conducted by Nestlé Professional, February 2020.

Ref: Hendrie G, et al. CSIRO Healthy Diet Score. 2016