Sector Insight: Diet Products - Slim Pickings

Marketing, January 19, 2005 | Go to article overview

Sector Insight: Diet Products - Slim Pickings


As Britain's waistlines have expanded, so has demand for diet foods. Jane Bainbridge examines the sector's growth.

THE BACKGROUND

The diet industry is almost as subject to fads as the clothing market. Just a few years ago it was all about low fat; now health-conscious British consumers are seeking foods that allow them to minimise sugar or carbs. More traditional weight-loss brands such as Slimfast and Weight Watchers have suffered as celebrity-endorsed regimes such as the Atkins and South Beach diets have grown in popularity. However, it is likely to be the low-fat and low-sugar foods that prove successful in the long term.

British consumers are getting fatter, and it is not just a short-term consequence of Christmas bingeing. Nearly two-thirds of males and 57% of females were either overweight or obese in 2002, compared with 1998 totals of 63% and 53% respectively, according to the government's Health Survey for England.

While this is a headache for health professionals, it represents a growing opportunity for the diet food sector. There has been a surge in interest in the subject since the Health Select Committee published its May 2004 report on the link between diet and health, and in particular on the impact of high levels of fat and sugar in food.

For many years the diet food industry consisted chiefly of low-fat products, which are classified as those containing less than 3g of fat per 100g.

The term 'fat-free' can only be used when the product contains less than 0.15g of fat per 100g.

Outside the low-fat category, low-sugar products (usually containing artificial sweeteners and dubbed 'light'), slimming clubs and meal-replacement drinks traditionally made up the remainder of the sector.

That changed in late 2003, when the Atkins diet took the UK by storm.

US cardiologist Dr Robert Atkins' book The New Diet Revolution, which claimed that limited carbohydrate intake was the key to weight loss, was published in the UK in 2000, and as the diet's popularity spread across the Atlantic, the first products from Atkins Nutritionals hit British shelves in January 2004.

Although the Atkins diet has enjoyed a great deal of publicity and celebrity endorsement, it has attracted controversy, and the debate still rages over the efficacy of low-carb diets compared with low-fat ones.

Low-carb opportunity

It is hard to give an accurate estimate of the size of the low-carb market - mainly due to the lack of a set definition of what 'low-carb' means - but many food manufacturers clearly see it as a category worth investing in. As well as Atkins Nutritionals and Carbolite - companies founded specifically to capitalise on the low-carb diet - traditional food manufacturers and retailers have entered the market.

In September last year Unilever Bestfoods introduced Carb Options, a low-carb range including sauces, pasta and soups under the Hellmann's and Knorr brand names. It has invested pounds 2m in an ad campaign, using the strapline 'Curb your carbs, not your enthusiasm'. Meanwhile, in the US, Coca-Cola has jumped on the bandwagon with C2, a low-carb, low-calorie cola, though sales have proved disappointing.

Among retailers, Tesco plans to roll out own-brand line Carb Control later this year, and Boots will introduce Locarb, a range of 30 chilled and ambient products.

The phenomenon has affected other areas of the diet food industry. Heinz Weight Watchers added four frozen ready meals to its range in September 2004; as well as being low in fat, they contain fewer carbohydrates.

Weight Watchers launched as a slimming club in the US in 1963, moving to the UK in 1967. Heinz acquired the brand in 1978, and is focusing on the food products side of the business.

Growing competition

While Weight Watchers is by far the biggest slimming club - with an estimated 6000 meetings a week in the UK - there has been a rise in its number of online rivals, including cafeslim. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sector Insight: Diet Products - Slim Pickings
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.