Gluten-free takeout orders up 60% YoY, while 4% of US restaurants now offer gluten-free options, says GrubHub

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Restaurant

Picture: Cheffie’s Café, Memphis
Picture: Cheffie’s Café, Memphis
Gluten-free takeout orders have grown almost 60% since April 2012, according to digital food ordering service GrubHub.

An analysis of orders from GrubHub’s database of 20,000+ restaurants in more than 500 US cities also revealed that diners in the Pacific Northwest lead demand* for gluten-free, with Seattle, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, topping the list of cities with the highest percentage of gluten-free orders.

The next biggest gluten-free cities were San Jose, Chicago, Raleigh, Denver, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Albany.

More than 4% of GrubHub restaurants now offer gluten-free options, but in some cities, the percentage is up to 18%

More than 4% of GrubHub restaurants now offer gluten-free options, with pizzas, salads, burgers, wraps and sandwiches the most popular choices.

But which cities are ahead of the game when it comes to offering gluten-free menu items?

According to GrubHub, Detroit is the clear winner, with almost 18% of restaurants featuring a gluten-free item, followed by Stamford, CT (15%), Eugene, OR (12%), Albany, NY (11%), Phoenix, AZ (10%), Lansing, MI (9%), Denver, CO and Seattle, WA (8%), Ann Arbor, MI and Providence, RI (7%).

Meanwhile, the following cities have shown the highest growth in demand for gluten-free takeout, based on a year-over-year (April/May 2012 and April/May 2013) comparison of orders described as ‘gluten-free’.

Albany, San Francisco, Portland, Trenton, Washington, New Haven, Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego and Syracuse.

As for the most popular gluten-free dishes, the most-ordered items described as ‘gluten-free’ on menus are: Pizza, salad, burger, wrap, sandwich, Pad Thai, pasta, bread, cake and paninis.

Technomic: There has been an explosion of gluten-free items on menus at limited service restaurants  in the past two years


The data accords with recent research from Technomic, which claims there has also been an “explosionof gluten-free items​” on menus at limited service restaurants (LSRs) in the past two years.

In its January 2013 ‘Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report’​, Technomic said: “Essentially non-existent as a health claim on mainstream menus just two years ago, there are now hundreds of LSR menu items described as gluten-free.”

Gluten-free items now positioned as simply better-for-you choices

GrubHub's database includes 20,000+ restaurants in more than 500 US cities

Strikingly, gluten-free is now regarded by many restaurant diners as a healthy option rather than an option purely for celiacs, and is positioned on menus accordingly, says Technomic.

Once promoted as a menu alternative to the small segment of the population that suffers from celiac disease, gluten-free items are now positioned as simply better-for-you choices that are generally perceived by consumers to be lighter fare​.

And the growth in gluten-free offerings is happening at every level in the industry, it observes: “Next 250 and emerging chains are surpassing Top 250 chains in introducing gluten-free items, suggesting that this health claim has even more potential to gain traction on a wider scale over time.”

*Demand is based on GrubHub orders that include menu items described as "gluten-free," placed between 1/1/2013 and 5/28/2013.

Click here​ to read more about GrubHub.

Click here​ to read our interview with Boulders Brands CEO Steve Hughes (Udi's, Glutino).

Click here​ to read more stories on the gluten-free market.

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