Kraft Foods forges South Beach diet alliance

Related tags Nutrition

Kraft Foods announced today that in the next few days a number of
its products will be branded as "South Beach diet recommended", as
it attempts to cash in on North America's continuing interest in
low-carb diets.

The company said in June that it had agreed a deal with the South Beach diet to use the latter's logo on foods that can be eaten by people following this programme.

Some of Kraft's dairy products already earmarked in the agreement include Kraft 2% Milk, Fat Free Singles, and Light N' Lively Cottage Cheese.

The South Beach Diet, not to the less-discerning-eye that different from the better known Atkins Diet, places an emphasis on lean sources of protein, fibre, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and advocates giving up processed foods such as white bread and products containing saturated and trans fats.

The diet was dreamed up by Dr Arthur Agatston, whose book, The South Beach Diet, has barely been out of the New York Times' list of bestsellers since its launch.

Kraft Foods announced earlier this year that it had abandoned its plan to reduce the portion sizes of some of its snacks, citing consumer research that shows shoppers prefer to have the choice of whether to go with smaller packages.

Last July the company announced it had decided to change some product recipes, reduce portions in some single-serve packages, stop marketing snacks via giveaways at school and encourage healthier lifestyles in the face of growing consumer health concerns and the risk of obesity lawsuits against food companies.

It will be interesting to see whether the mention of the South Beach diet on some Kraft products has an effect on sales, particularly in the light of Atkins Nutritionals' announcement earlier this month that it had hired a turnaround specialist to help it cope with tough competition from rival food companies.

Some in the food industry claimed that this was the clearest sign yet that consumer interest in low-carb diets was finally waning, though Atkins' problems could be attributed - as the company is claiming - to a deluge of low-carb products on the market, causing stiff competition for the grandfather of the outfit.

Despite a decline in SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) of no- or low-carb foods and drinks across the US in the last three months, decreasing from 633 SKUs in June, to 306 in July and 209 in August, this year has still seen the launch of a record number of low- and no-carb products, according to Productscan Online.

A mere 3.8 per cent of new food and beverage launches in the US in 2003 were no- or low-carb products (compared to a paltry 2.1 percent the year before). This year, the figure has jumped to a whopping 17.9 percent, meaning that 2585 products were placed on the supermarket shelves this year in comparison with 633 in 2003.

Atkins' products have been swamped in this flood, now only taking up 4.8 percent of new low- or no-carb SKUs (Stock Keeping Units), compared to 28.1 percent in 2002, when the craze was getting into its stride.

Although, Kraft is simply re-labelling existing brands, rather than launching new ones, other food companies will no doubt be watching sales and seeing whether this is a savvy marketing move.

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