From established franchisors adding gluten-free items to their menus to start-up franchisors building their brand around healthy, gluten-free options, the market for gluten-free foods is taking off. The market for gluten-free foods was estimated at $2.6 billion in 2010, and franchise restaurants are competing for a bite of that gluten-free pie. With more than 20 million Americans identified as having an intolerance to gluten, and the number diagnosed rising each year, that pie is bound to grow.
Gluten-free food was named one of the Top 10 Hottest Menu Trends for 2011 by the National Restaurant Association, and franchise restaurants are hot in pursuit of customers seeking gluten-free meals and snacks. From pizza and pasta to pastries and cookies, franchise food brands have been adding gluten-free items to their menus for several years, a nationwide phenomenon expected to continue growing in the coming years.