Lift grocerant profits with allergen-free, restricted diet menu choices

Grocerants can sharpen profitability and the ‘better for you’ and ‘caring for you’ platforms of their parent supermarkets by promoting ‘allergen-free’ and ‘restricted diet’ dishes on their menuboards and menus, on signage by prepared foods ‘to-go’ sections, and in social-media messages.

November 7, 2017

Grocerants can sharpen profitability and the ‘better for you’ and ‘caring for you’ platforms of their parent supermarkets by promoting ‘allergen-free’ and ‘restricted diet’ dishes on their menuboards and menus, on signage by prepared foods ‘to-go’ sections, and in social-media messages. 

The more prominent the choices, the likelier grocerants will avoid the ‘veto vote,’ when one person blocks an entire group from choosing an eatery. Also, the more appealing the offer is to growing numbers of diners who choose to avoid certain ingredients – and are willing to pay more to do so. 

For example, 33% of Americans today try to avoid gluten, reports the Washington Post.  Gluten-free callouts on restaurant menus have soared 182% over the past four years, and nearly 2,000% over the past decade, says Datassential MenuTrends.  And “26% of American customers are willing to pay more for gluten-free foods. This means gluten-free menu items are not only a great way to create an accepting environment for patrons with allergy concerns, they are also a way to increase profits and attract a wider audience,” reports Nestle Professional.

Grocerants that create dishes specifically for these health concerns, and dedicate themselves to execute them well, will differentiate from many nearby casual eateries and fortify a destination image for both the grocerant and the supermarket.  According to the 2015 SupermarketGuru-National Grocers Association Consumer Survey Report, a store that “fulfills special requests” cares about its customers; this trait ranked #7 on a list of 18 caring measures and helped influence the choice of a primary supermarket.

If grocerant chefs focus on eight ingredients that trigger the most food allergies -  milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans – they’ll address up to 15 million Americans who have a food allergy, including 5.9 million children under the age of 18, according to Food Allergy Research & Education.   

Some “45% of afflicted adults develop food allergies in adulthood,” says Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, lead author of a new study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.  Two adult food allergies on the rise are shellfish and tree nuts.

Complexities arise when chefs attempt to devise menus with safer choices for people with food allergies and diet restrictions. A Washington Post article detailed the efforts at two restaurateurs – Next Door in Stapleton, CO, and Little Beet based in New York.  Some tactics used at one or the other or both:

  • Top salads with sunflower seeds instead of nuts.
  • Dredge calamari in cornstarch or polenta instead of wheat flour before frying.
  • Use separate fryers for dishes that are vegan, vegetarian or that contain gluten and/or seafood.
  • Toast gluten-free buns on a separate toasting surface.
  • No peanuts or peanut oil allowed in the restaurant.
  • No soy, soy milk or soy sauce allowed in the restaurant.
  • No gluten allowed in the restaurant.
  • Monthly in-house audits and self-imposed private health inspections.

Next Door culinary director Merlin Verrier told the Post “he is training his growing team to build in allergy and intolerance awareness from the start, as the core of the menu R&D.”

Here's a great tool to share with your customers! They can create their own Food Allergy Buddy cards and print for free. Click here to see how it works.

 

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