Allergens and special requests - catering to the individual

by Alistair Coats

Whether it’s as part of the latest dietary fad or the doctor’s orders, the number of people looking to avoid certain ingredients in their work lunch continues to rise rapidly.

Allergen information

More than 50 million people in the US suffer from at least one food allergy. The list of diets that cut out food groups - aiming at perfect nutrition - is bloated but likely to keep growing. In the catering industry it’s going to be crucial that we can offer people what they want and give them confidence that that’s what they’ll get.

Cost, but also opportunity

Building increasingly diverse menus will be a challenge, but it will be offset by improved revenues: customers will be happy to order again and again when they can trust their caterer.

For an idea of numbers, let’s look at the market for gluten-free products. This was $1.7 billion in 2011, $3.5 billion in 2016, and is expected to grow to $4.7 billion by 2020. Hence Dunkin’ Donuts’ release of its first gluten-free donut this week, packaged separately from the rest of the menu, and with allergen risks written clearly for customers.

Information first

The first step to building customers’ trust is providing the right information. People ordering food online want to see clearly what different menus contain, and they want to see that information quickly and easily.

One of Spoonfed’s features that has proven very popular is the ability to hover over a question mark for an item and see more information about it:

Spoonfed Online Ordering allergen information

And we believe firmly that information needs to flow both ways. Good service is not just about telling the customer what’s on offer, it’s also about letting them tell you what they want. We allow for notes to be added to items and orders overall, ensuring that specific requirements are met.

Then, once the order is completed, our Customer Reviews module lets caterers send out automated requests for feedback - nobody can improve their service without knowing what is and isn’t working.

Group Ordering - letting the individual choose

You may have read about our recent release of Group Ordering in Spoonfed. This is a feature that is built to help caterers in the new world of dietary requirements.

With Group Ordering it’s easy to let your customers choose exactly what they want. No need to put together a platter and hope that everyone will be happy - just send out a link letting them pick their own food, so that you can be certain they will be.

The best part is the control you have. Set a deadline for their selection, limit their menu choices, apply a maximum order value - you keep control of the order but let them choose what they want. Then, anybody who didn’t make a choice can be added to a group platter in seconds.

If you’d like to know more about how Spoonfed could help you cater to your customer’s individual needs, click on the chat button at the bottom right and we’ll be happy to help.

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