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Last week in Denver, more than 400 people gathered for the first "LowCarbiz Summit," a conference designed to examine (and exploit) the $15 billion-and-expanding low-carbohydrate business that has been popularized by the Atkins Diet and its brethren.

If the results of a study released at the conference is to be believed, this remains a big opportunity for retailers. After all, 84 percent of those queried in a poll said they knew something about low-carb diets…and only 81 percent said they knew something about Weight Watchers, In addition, the poll said that some 59 million people in the US are watching their carb intake.

Notes from the conference:

  • The general agreement was that for low-carb products to be successful, better packaging and marketing are critical.

  • There was considerable debate (and no conclusion) as to whether low-carb products should be integrated with mainstream food items or segregated into their own section.

  • Experts seem to feel that the low carb business will grow 90 percent this year and next.

KC's View:
Ninety percent growth this year and again next year? Is that a prediction or wishful thinking?

We've been amused the last few days over the controversy that erupted in New York when Mayor Michael Bloomberg joked that he didn’t think that Dr. Robert Atkins had died because he'd fallen, but rather that it was a result of his being overweight…and that when he'd eaten food at an Atkins party, it had been inedible.

This joke - which seemed to go over about as well as Hillary Clinton's Gandhi remark, or Howard Dean's primal scream - outraged Atkins' widow, and Bloomberg finally had to apologize and offer to take the widow Atkins out for a steak.

You gotta love it.

The only thing about this that didn’t surprise us was that an Atkins party served inedible food.