The market for lactose free and gluten-free foods and beverages is hot! With estimates that 70 –75% of the world’s population may be lactose intolerant¹ and 1 in 133 people in the U.S. are affected by Celiac Disease², operators are paying attention! Foodservice directors are adding lactose and gluten free (GF) products to their menus daily. In fact, with the rise in these two gastrointestinal conditions, all aspects of foodservice (healthcare, hotels/casinos, C&U, K-12 cafeterias, and restaurants) should take it very seriously.
Colleges & Universities (C&U) are responding to the trend. For example, Oregon State University has a gluten-free webpage that directs students to food stations that offer GF menu items including frozen yogurt and smoothies. Looking to the near future, University of Nevada – Reno is adding a vegan/gluten free eatery and a self-serve frozen yogurt station to their food court this fall.
Why the connection between lactose free and gluten-free? The physical symptoms someone experiences who is sensitive to either two are very similar: abdominal pain, excessive gas, cramping, bloating and nausea. A large portion of people who avoid gluten or lactose, do so primarily because of symptoms and not because of diagnosis. All they know is cause and effect; if they eat it, they suffer. For people with Celiac or gluten-sensitivity, an elimination diet is the only treatment². For lactose, there are medications that can help prevent symptoms¹.
So what can you do as an operator to make the most of this rising health concern? Offer gluten free and lactose free options! In 2011, U.S. and Europe hit a combined $900 million in retail sales for lactose free products³. Gluten free was listed #2 in Time magazine’s Top 10 Food Trends of 2012. The gluten free category is expected to become worth $6.6 billion by 2017 according to Packaged Facts.
Frostline® Frozen Treats can help you in the dessert portion of your gluten free or lactose free menu. Offering soft serve that is free from these two gastrointestinal targets will not only give you peace of mind but it will enhance your menu’s image. It’s hard to find a person that doesn’t like ice cream, but some people have given it up because of their special dietary concerns. In healthcare, a bowl of soft serve is a welcome treat for patients who crave something cold and sweet but have dietary restrictions that limit their selections. C&U students have meal plans to use and self-service soft serve is a nice draw. Lastly, soft serve is a family favorite at restaurants! Restaurants can entice larger groups and families to dine-in just by offering complimentary soft serve.
If you are interested in talking to someone about offering a GF or lactose free dessert, let us know! Frostline® offers soft serve mixes, frozen yogurt mixes, frozen beverage mixes (including smoothie base mix) and flavor packets. We are here to help!
² National Foundation of Celiac Awareness http://www.celiaccentral.org/celiac-disease/facts-and-figures/