The report reveals that 95% of European and US manufacturers are considering an assault on the market with low-carb alternatives, seemingly spurred on by the Atkins craze which is claimed to have three million followers in Britain alone.
The finding, from a study of more than 500 food and drink professionals, comes as a growing number of big name players are launching into the arena. Nestlé last week announced it would introduce low-carb versions of its popular Kit Kat and Rolo countlines, while Coca-Cola introduced
a low-carb cola called C2 in the US and Japan. And The Grocer today reveals that Heinz Weight Watchers is to be one of the next household names to join the fray, with a range of four frozen ready meals scheduled to roll out in September (see page 68).
According to the new Reuters’ report, the overwhelming majority of food and drink manufacturers claim they “cannot afford to ignore the impact of low carb dieting on the industry” with more than a quarter treating the development of such foods as a priority.
The most likely sectors to satisfy consumers’ hunger for low-carb options include snack foods, bakery, ready meals, sauces and dressings, soft drinks and beer, it adds.
The wine and spirits sector is predicted to remain relatively unaffected, although most offerings already contain a relatively low carbohydrate count so one shift could come in the form of remarketing to flag up that fact.
Camilla Palmer, author of the Reuters report, said: “There is no doubt that the consumer’s appetite for low carbohydrate foods is huge.
“With big names entering the market on a daily basis, it is important that the UK food and drink industry realises the potential of the sector.”
However, some retailers claim manufacturers will have to think hard about lowering the asking prices for low-carb offerings if they are to establish a big presence in the market.