Low carb slot in food culture only temporary?

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Related tags: Nutrition

One in five Americans are currently following the low carbohydrate
diet as the fad Atkins-style dietary regime continues to take hold
of the weight-conscious consumer. But how long will it last?

Continued opportunities for food manufacturers keen to slot a low-carb line onto the supermarket shelf are rife with almost one in three Americans claiming that they have followed the diet at some point in their life.

According to market analysts ACNielson, 17 per cent of 10,000 US households surveyed have someone looking to cut the carbs and up the proteins. But, add the researchers, the figures showing the number of people who have tried a low-carb diet but jacked in the regime are just as compelling.

"The jury is still out as to whether the low-carb diet has staying power,"​ said Todd Hale, senior vice president of ACNielson.

But for the moment with more than 30 million Americans sticking to the diet, industry observers are on the look out for a knock-on effect - notwithstanding new low carb lines - in the retail sector.

Figures from ACNielson's tracker for carb-rich fresh potatoes shows a decline in dollar sales but a flat performance on a unit basis, indicating that price declines are driving much of the overall dollar sales declines.

On the other hand, eggs and bacon - both protein-rich foods favored by Atkins followers - are both showing much stronger dollar sales growth than unit sales growth, indicating that price increases in the categories are driving overall category dollar volume up.

Watching carbohydrate consumption is not the only food concern among American consumers. When asked about certain food-related issues, a majority of people indicated that they are aware of and concerned about the health risks surrounding obesity, trans-fatty acids and saturated fat. In fact, the tracker revealed that awareness of the health risks concerning trans-fatty acids is significantly below that of the other two.

This, despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration warned food manufacturers last year that by 2006 they will have to label the presence of trans fatty acids.

"We're in the midst of a great awakening when it comes to people's understanding of what's in their food. When the low-carb craze settles down a bit, I believe we'll see people taking a more informed and balanced approach to their eating,"​ said food industry analyst Phil Lempert. "The wise manufacturers will take the lead in making sure their foods are safe and healthy,"​ he added.

Related topics: Ingredients