Moderation to shape dieters' foods in 2005

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

The food industry will this year revert to one of the oldest
principles in healthy eating - balance - as it seeks to respond to
a consumer move away from extreme dieting, predicts a Mintel
analyst.

David Jago, director of Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), has joined other commentators in forecasting a decline in the low-carb craze in both the USA and the UK.

"The whole low-carb category is being seen as a fad,"​ Jago told NutraIngredients.com.

"Sales of low-carb products in the UK are quite low anyway so we won't notice too much change in the European marketplace, but the number of people on low-carb diets is falling in the US and here we will see lots of brands falling by the wayside."

While the UK has been the only significant European market for development activity in low-carb products, major brands such as Unilever have launched new ranges as late as the end of last year.

But rather than looking to the US, forward-looking manufacturers in Europe are more likely to be following an alternative trend that has developed in Australia, says Jago.

The Glycaemic Index has gained much coverage in the UK over recent months and will respond to consumer demand for a more 'moderate' approach to diet.

Again, most products mentioning GI on labels have been launched in the UK, although Germany is set to be the next biggest market, suggests Jago.

He added: "This could be a difficult concept for many consumers to understand and so manufacturers may do well to turn instead to the Glycemic Load, especially in Europe."

"Glycemic Load takes into account both the amount and the type of carbohydrate, and so is a more 'user-friendly' term for dieters."

So far, Tesco's has pioneered labeling of low-GI products in the mainstream industry, with fellow retailer Marks & Spencer following suit with its Count on Us range.

Food manufacturers will also see opportunity in mid-calorie products, predicts the analyst.

Mid-calorie products have so far been restricted to the USA and not all mid-' positioned products will work in Europe. For example, Coke has said it will not launch its C2 in the UK, Europe's largest market for low-calorie drinks, and therefore is not expected to enter the region.

But mid-calorie foods and foods with reduced, rather than low, fat could prove to offer a good positioning for companies looking for a healthier image.

"Such products fit the growing trend towards 'balance', and represent a useful compromise between the luxury, full-fat end of the market and the fat-free or very low fat option, which often only appeals to the very health conscious,"​ explained Jago.

He suggests that categories that feature strong polarization between luxury and low-fat variants - such as yoghurts - might benefit most from this trend, with most consumers preferring to keep some of the fat for better taste.

In line with this, portion control will become a major new trend, first in the US and later in the UK and some parts of continental Europe, according to Mintel.

Larger-sized products, like King Size chocolate bars, may be relaunched as 'Share Size', while other products might appear in pre-measured and labelled packs, like Kraft Foods' 100 Calorie Packs in the US, to make it as easy as possible for consumers to get healthy.

Related topics: Weight management

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