Gluten Free is the most requested special diet

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Our research shows gluten free tops the list of special dietary requests, yet one in two New Zealand chefs and cooks have no formal training in gluten free food service according to local research[1]. With New Zealand foodservice on the road to recovery, we’ve got the latest information to help bridge this gap for you and your customers.


Our latest industry survey shows ‘gluten free’ tops the list of special dietary requests in Australian food services, yet one in two New Zealand chefs and cooks don’t have formal training in gluten free food preparation, according to a 2017 study by the University of Otago[2].

As hospitality returns to normality, special meals will continue to be a priority for many food service customers, so it’s important to ensure your 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…

gluten free in foodservice

While our Australian survey found encouraging signs the hospitality industry is providing more choice for customers who request gluten free meals, for some hospitality staff, gluten is still considered 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 she believed hospitality 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 1 in 8 New Zealanders seeking gluten free meals[3], we need to make it as easy as possible for hospitality to meet demand,” Ms Kingham said.


“With the majority of surveyed hospitality staff (90%) wanting access to better training in gluten free, we have launched a New Zealand edition to the Australian Practical Guide to Gluten Free in Food Service. As a company with a growing portfolio of products to cater 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.

The New Zealand edition, of Your Practical Guide to Gluten Free in Food Service is an addition to Nestlé Professional’s portfolio of gluten free food products and has been developed based upon Coeliac Australia’s Gluten Free Standard for Food Service. The educational guide and its supporting tools can be downloaded below and via this link:


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 easily 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.

With around 25% of New Zealanders with coeliac disease choosing not to eat out of home[4] Ms Kingham also highlighted the need to address the lack of trust gluten free diners have in food service providers’ ability to serve genuine gluten free meals.

Karl Seidel, Executive Chef for Nestlé Professional New Zealand, 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 Seidel said.

“With case study scenarios and step by step solutions, Nestlé Professional'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.


This guide and its related materials complement Nestlé Professional’s portfolio of gluten free food service products which simplify menu planning and support the creation of gluten free menus.

For more information on these and other products supporting special dietary requests, download our catalogiue here or click the below.


Gluten Free in Foodservice



[1] Australian industry survey conducted by Nestlé Professional, February 2020.

[2] Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2017;26(4) 719.

[3] Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. 2014 New Zealand Grains and Legumes Consumption and Attitudinal report. Unpublished: 2015

[4] Short et al. Nutrition & Dietetics 2014;71: 223-228