UK companies develop easier approach to carb-counting

Related tags Nutrition Uk Mintel

Products developed by the latest entrant to the UK's low-carb
market shows that the regime is being given a less extreme twist
than the popular Atkins diet originating from across the Atlantic.

New company Xcarb says its line of meals including pasta sauces, snacks and ice-cream, is designed to help people following a low carb diet stick to the regime and also offer balanced nutrition.

The range, which has not yet signed any distribution deals, comes just after Unilever launched its Carb Options range in supermarkets last month. The major food group said its range has been created in response to the explosion of 'carb conscious' consumers who do not want to go on extreme diets.

It cited statistics from a survey of 1000 consumers carried out in June this year, showing that one in five people in the UK are 'watching' their carb intake, in contrast to only one in 50 who are actually on the Atkins diet.

Mintel research suggests this could be down to the difficulty for consumers in sticking to the regime. Forty per cent of low carb dieters say that it is hard to stay on a low carb diet for more than a few months at a time, while there are also the special occasions where 67 per cent of low carb dieters do not limit the carbs they consume.

There has also been significant negative publicity in the UK regarding potential risks of the Atkins diet in the long-term.

As a result, many of the foods being launched on the UK market seem to be designed to respond to those consumers looking to cut carbs in order to eat more healthily, rather than those following a strict regime such as Atkins.

The Xcarb​ line-up of products includes ready meals such as 'salmon in a creamy lemon dill sauce' and the English favourite: 'chicken tikka masala', which also contain vegetables to maintain a healthy quota of vitamins.

James McCoy, senior consultant at Mintel, told that he has seen fewer low-carb layunches than originally expected but that "we might start seeing alternatives to mainstream products. For example, reduced carbohydrate bread, which is still very high in carbohydrates."

Mintel estimates that about 1.35 million people are controlling their carbohydrate intake, with about 40 per cent buying specialist foods. The current market is valued at around £280 million (€405m).

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