This is for all the take-out pizza lovers out there! We already know that California Pizza Kitchen, Domino’s and Fresh Brothers all offer gluten-free pizza but now Pizza Hut is about to join their ranks by offering a “Certified Gluten-Free Pizza.”
Pizza Hut is about to join the gluten-free brigade.
Beginning Jan. 26, roughly 2,400 of the chain’s 6,300 domestic locations will begin selling gluten-free pizzas. The move comes two years after rival Domino’s rolled out a pizza sold with a gluten-free crust — but not entirely gluten free. Pizza Hut will be the first major pizza chain to sell a pizza that is certified gluten-free.
Gluten-free foods have been a fast-growing trend over the past several years — with roughly 44 million Americans showing interest in purchasing gluten-free products of all kinds, and 22% of Americans buying gluten-free products occasionally, according to a study by the research firm Datamonitor. There were about 3,000 new gluten-free snack product introductions in the U.S. from 2008 to 2010, says the consumer research specialist Mintel.
The Pizza Hut version, which is a 10-inch, six-slice pizza, will sell for $9.99. A slice is roughly 150 calories — about 100 calories less than the brand’s so-called Skinny Slice pizza.
Pizza Hut’s offering is in partnership with Udi’s Gluten Free Foods — the largest gluten-free company in the world — and the Gluten Intolerance Group, a non-profit group that verifies safe, gluten-free food.
“This will get new users into the brand and existing users to visit more frequently,” says David Gibbs, CEO at Pizza Hut, in a phone interview.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley or any of their crossbred varieties and derivatives. In baking, gluten is the binding agent within the flour that prevents the baked good from crumbling, so gluten is found in many processed and packaged foods.
For Pizza Hut, gluten-free is not just about appealing to consumers with celiac disease — an inherited autoimmune disorder in which gluten proteins damage the small intestine. The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. More broadly, a growing number of consumers are at least occasionally seeking gluten-free options because they say such a diet helps them feel better.
Gluten-free isn’t simple. The Udi’s gluten-free crust, as well as the cheese, marinara sauce and pepperoni, will be kept in a designated Gluten-Free Kit inside each restaurant. From there, every Pizza Hut Gluten-Free Pizza is to be baked fresh-to-order on parchment paper and delivered in a specially branded Udi’s Gluten-Free Pizza box. Also, all employees who make the Gluten-Free Pizza have been instructed to wear gloves and use a designated gluten-free pizza cutter.
Pizza Hut executives do not expect gluten-free to have a huge market, but it will appeal to a niche — and eliminate the “veto vote” for consumers who only want gluten-free options, says Gibbs.
Pizza with gluten-free crust is not a huge seller at Domino’s, but it sells enough, says spokesman Tim McIntyre, “that we intend to keep it as a permanent menu item.”
Hollywood will get the first taste. Pizza Hut will be serving Cheese Gluten-Free Pizza and Pepperoni Gluten-Free Pizza at A&E’s official after party for the 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards on Thursday.