Canadian Study: Why GF/AF Food Costs More!

A Canadian study looked at the increase in cost for GF (Gluten Free) foods in grocery stores and it will blow your mind! If you or a family member have been recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Food Allergies you have probably noticed how much more you spend in the grocery store.  Also, you may notice the increased cost when dining out (if you are able to dine out safely). This is something I hear about from customers who are new to GF (gluten free) and some who just like to complain first and think later.  Most with serious food allergies can’t eat anywhere safely, unless they come to One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli & Bakery and they don’t ever complain about the prices because they understand what it takes to do what we do in order to safely feed them.

I was reading the Celiac Disease Digest newsletter from Children’s National Medical Center and they referenced a study done in 2008 by Canada’s Dalhousie Medical School. They looked at 56 ordinary grocery items that contain gluten and then they looked at 56  GF versions of the same products. All of the GF products were more expensive. On average, they were 242 % more expensive!

gotta be kidding me

My reaction exactly;  but wait, there’s more! I know that our food is more expensive than mainstream restaurants, but we are nowhere near 242% more expensive because we price our products as low as we can and we don’t make near the profit as a mainstream restaurant. If that was true in my restaurant; we would be saying “That Reuben will be $41.00 please”. They did this study based on the cost of food in grocery stores.

I will give you a couple of examples:

1lb of chicken wings here costs $11.99 and a local restaurant in Maryland charges $10.99 for their allergy filled and gluten filled wings (we are about 9% higher..nowhere near 242%). The local restaurant sells their gluten and allergen filled Reuben for $11.99 including fries.  We sell our Reuben Sandwich for $14.99  (add fries to it and the cost is $17.99 or 20% more because of the homemade GF/AF bread & hand cut fries and handmade condiments, etc.)  Mmmmmm….

Our Reuben costs   20 % more                      Our Wings cost        9 % more

Yup and our last price increase was in January of 2015, more than a year ago and some customers stopped coming because it is too expensive. We are nowhere near 242% higher than other restaurants!  But each week you pay an average of 242% more in a grocery store.

According to the study, the average cost of a GF product was $1.71 and the average cost for the gluten filled counterpart was $.61. Unit cost was based on 100 grams. Hence; 242%.

The study cited the following as the main reasons that GF/AF Products cost more:

Here are some of the factors that increase costs in gluten-free manufacturing:
  1. Thorough and regular cleaning of factories, which increases production costs
  2. Less competition due to a limited number of manufacturers that meet production standards
  3. Gluten-free foods are often made with more expensive ingredients such as brown rice flour, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat; some also contain special sweeteners such as honey, agave, or coconut sugar
  4. A limited supply of gluten-free products, available only in stores with higher margins
  5. Simple supply and demand; until more people are diagnosed with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or prefer to purchase gluten free foods for other reasons, the products will remain limited.
Can J Diet Pract Res. 2008 Fall; 69(3):147-50. Gluten-free and regular foods: a cost comparison. Stevens L1, Rashid M.
But wait, there is still more. Last week I was reading a post on a GF Facebook page and they were talking about the need for more completely GF restaurants and many of the comments were…”we need GF restaurants but please don’t price gouge us”.  I thought to myself, “are you kidding me”…we don’t price gouge anyone! We only feed between 1 and 5% of the population and every day is struggle to keep prices so you can afford to eat and we struggle to get people in the door….we serve a small sliver of the population. We don’t have the luxury of falling back on the high mark up that accompanies alcohol sales. Alcohol does not need to be labeled for gluten or any allergen, it is not regulated by the FDA, so we don’t have it here.
At Home Challenge: Pull open that drawer where you keep all of your Carry Out Menus and see for yourself. Reality Check; look at the prices on our menu (on our website) and compare them to your local gluten and allergy filled restaurant and see how we compare to their gluten/allergen filled food and any “GF” item they may offer without any guarantee. We are nowhere near 242% higher as you see in a grocery store.
You will see the biggest price difference on items that involve breads, pizza, pastas and baked goods because of the high cost of GF flours.  Look at what you pay for a small GF Pizza in the freezer isle or from a “I hope it is really GF Menu” in a mainstream restaurant:
$ 11.99- 10″ Round (79 sq inches; .15 sq inch)
  for pre-made frozen pizza and hope it is GF at a hot fired oven place.
$7.99- 8″ Square (64 sq inches; .12 sq inch)
  for square pizza & hope it is GF at this place known for its’ rectangle pizza.
$ 16.49- Rectangle 9x 12  (108 sq inches; .15 sq inch)
  for One Dish Cuisine and you have leftovers.
It costs nothing in one comparison or 3 cents more per square inch in the other comparison in order to eat a safe pizza at our completely GF/Allergy Friendly Cafe, Deli & Bakery.  So, when I hear someone say we are “price gouging”, I want to bang my head against the wall!
When you walk into a completely GF Restaurant you are no longer in the “land of gluten and honey”!  In our case we are completely free of most allergens and we have two separate kitchens using about 2x as much square footage as a mainstream restaurant kitchen, 4 times the amount of ovens and refrigerators & freezers, 3 or 4x the labor cost because we have to make everything in house to ensure it is safe. We make our own bread, and desserts, make our own salad dressings, croutons, sauces, slice our meats fresh and we hand cut our own french fries because we can’t buy them commercially without a coating of gluten or soy on them.  A 25 bag of wheat flour costs about $8.50 and our specialty GF Flour cost about $30-$35 per 25lb bag.  But wait, there is more. We take the worry out of dining out for you.
Many of you have seen me discuss prices in previous newsletters. I thought this study was great information to share, especially because the study was done by someone other than  me. In closing, I hope you will rejoice that we don’t have a 242% mark up in our cafe, deli and bakery; if we did that Reuben would be  $41.00! P.S. I need a blown up version of the photo below to put on my office door; it just might come in handy.
 bang head here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s