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Dunkin' to Jump on the Gluten-Free Bandwagon

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The coffee and baked goods chain Dunkin’ Donuts owned by Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. (DNKN - Free Report) is on the verge of serving gluten-free options to its guests. According to Bloomberg, gluten-free cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and blueberry muffins from Dunkin' Donuts will be up for sale nationwide this year.

The initiative was first carried out late last year when Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ rolled out gluten-free confectioneries in some test markets like Florida and Massachusetts. We believe, encouraged by the huge acceptance in the test markets, Dunkin’ worked on the idea of national distribution for the product.

Gluten is a protein commonly found in wheat and some other grains. Bloomberg said, in order to avoid contamination from other foods containing wheat flour, the soon-to-be-launched Dunkin' pastries will be packaged separately.

Of late, it has been a fad among U.S. eateries to serve a healthy menu owing to consumer preference for a fresh, organic, nutritious and low calorie menu. Gluten-free offerings are a new addition to the list.

Though gluten-free foods are not exactly low calorie, they do provide alternatives for people with food and dietary restrictions. Especially, people with celiac disease should refrain from consuming gluten.

According to the NPD Group, 30% of U.S. adults opt for gluten-free items. Per statistics, in 2012, more than 200 million restaurant visits included customers who ordered “gluten-free” or “wheat-free” items, considerably up from 2008. According to food service market researcher Mintel, the gluten-free industry is flourishing due to rising health concerns among Americans.  

Some leading national restaurant chains catering to the gluten-sensitive crowd are Domino’s Pizza Inc. (DPZ - Free Report) , which offers gluten-free crusts, Chiptole Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG - Free Report) and Burger King Worldwide Inc. offering several gluten-free options. Chuck E. Cheese also sells gluten-free cheese pizza and cupcakes.

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