Feb. 9 - That sound you (virtually) heard on January 26, when Pizza Hut debuted its Udi’s-crusted gluten-free pizza to 2,400 locations nationwide, was a collective cheer from the GF blogosphere. “The beautiful partnership of Pizza Hut and Udi’s,” said one blogger, is a celiac’s dream come true. “Excited” was the word du jour. Gluten free-ers are excited that the world’s largest pizza company is catering to their dietary needs. Excited that the move will spur other restaurants into GF action, and excited that Pizza Hut is doing it right.
In collaboration with Gluten Intolerance Group, Pizza Hut implemented in-store training protocols, developed customized preparation procedures, and supplied restaurants with Gluten-Free Kits with gloves, parchment paper, and designated pizza cutters. This overhaul process is not simple, easy, or cheap. Having made the investment in time and training to carve itself a slice of the GF pie, the world’s largest pizza company is clearly confident that gluten-free is far from faddish.
Indeed, Packaged Facts’ report Gluten-free Foods in the U.S. (January 2015) reveals that the share of chain restaurants serving GF fare skyrocketed seven-fold between 2010 and 2014 to 15%. And roughly 14% of respondents to Packaged Facts’ August 2014 proprietary consumer survey say the availability of gluten-free options plays a role when they are deciding what to order at fast-food or sit-down restaurants.