Atkins UK denies waning interest in low-carbs

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Related tags: Carbohydrate, Nutrition, Low-carbohydrate diet, Uk

Atkins Nutritionals, the US-based company behind the trendy
low-carb diet, has hired a turnaround specialist to shake up its
business in the wake of increasing competition and waning consumer
interest in low-carb diets, it said this week.

The private company is to cut jobs and take other measures to boost efficiency in response to an increasing number of low-carbohydrate foods on supermarket shelves.

"There has been a huge explosion of low-carb products from manufacturers of every conceivable size,"​ Atkins spokesman Richard Rothstein told Reuters. "We are dealing with a very different marketplace than existed a year ago."

However the firm's UK division, which launched its first products on the market earlier this year, said it is seeing no such pressure and is instead benefiting from "an exceptionally positive response"​ to its products, available in Boots, Holland & Barrett and health food stores.

It has also extended distribution of the products this month to the leading supermarket chains Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Superdrug.

A statement from Atkins UK​ managing director Roger Spicer said: "There are over 3 million people in the UK who are currently following the Atkins low-carb lifestyle. I'm delighted to say that our sales are buoyant and there are no signs of a downward trend."

He added that growing demand for low-carb products in the UK is illustrated by the increasing number of companies entering the market.

This appears to be supported by recent research carried out by Reuters, which found that over a quarter of food and drink companies in the UK, Europe and US view the development of low-carb foods as a priority and are actively investing in research and development of new products.

But the situation in the US suggests that there the low-carb market could become quickly saturated, and may be susceptible to competition from new diet regimes. Other low-carb diets, such as the South Beach and Zone regimes, have managed to ride the wave of Atkin's success, forcing the company to release statements in recent months highlighting its superior science.

Data from Productscan shows that Atkins' products only make up 4.8 per cent of new low- or no-carb products on the US market compared to 28.1 per cent in 2002, when the craze was getting into its stride.

Meanwhile UK nutritionists and food makers are increasingly looking at the low glycaemic index as a more 'sensible' way of measuring healthy carb intake.

"Not many brands are well-placed enough to support a low-carb range,"​ Mintel analyst David Jago told earlier this year. "And this is not the first time that low-carbs have come around. There was also a lot of noise about the diet in the 70s but it never really took off."

He added: "The low-carb trend gives companies the perfect opportunity to start talking about GI. It is in some ways a more educated approach to carbohydrate control and we are expecting some food industry players to jump on the low-carb bandwagon to promote this new diet."

Many fibre suppliers are indeed starting to do so, including Dutch firm Acatris promoting its Fenugreek extract and National Starch with its resistant starch.

Related topics: Fibers & carbohydrates

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