Restaurants are losing out financially because they are failing to meet the needs of dieters and allergy suffers, according to a new Mintel survey.
Last year, the special dietary needs market was worth almost £5b, but Mintel's Britain's Forgotten Diners report suggests a further two million potential customers with dietary requirements and their dining companions are being put off from eating-out because of a lack of suitable choices.
16% of adults said they wanted restaurants to provide low-fat or low-calorie options, while one in 10 now looks for low-carbohydrate dishes on a menu. Two-thirds of those questioned had been on a diet at some point.
The nation's six million vegetarians are catered for much better than the 20 million dieters, food allergy and food intolerance sufferers, the report found. And yet catering for these requests could prove very lucrative, with three million Britons saying they are prepared to pay more for a meal that fulfils their dietary requirements.
Linda Haden, Mintel's catering analyst, explained people now wanted to tailor their restaurant meals to suit their needs. "Restaurants are not catering for this lucrative market," she said. "There is enormous business potential among these consumers, who are clearly more than willing to pay extra."
by Emily Manson
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