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In this month's Facts, figures & The Future, from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert, an extensive look at the burgeoning low-carb explosion:

  • In evaluating the low carbohydrate phenomenon, Lempert writes that "we are seeing a market adjustment; where food companies are reducing the amount of carbs (especially those hidden carbs) with the hope of capitalizing on the trend and increasing their brand's share. Bottom line is that the change will be good for America's waistline no matter what the motivation."

  • Proof that low-carb may be more than a fad can be seen in the fact that "interest in low carb foods, unlike in previous health-related shifts (such as no-fat or low-fat), is showing up in many product categories while simultaneously we are seeing a shift in buying behaviors with numerous inherently high carbohydrate foods showing sales declines," F3 reports.

  • In addition, F3 reports that "Watching carbohydrate consumption is not the only food concern among American consumers. When asked about obesity, trans fatty acids and saturated fat, most people are aware of and concerned about the health risks surrounding each issue. However, awareness of trans fatty acids is significantly below that of the other two which may well come as a surprise to the manufacturers as they change their labels to include that information.

And, in other news from F3:

  • News that "store growth within the Dollar Store channel is unsurpassed by any other retail channel and retailers within the Dollar Store channel are moving from their rural and small town American roots into both urban and suburban America."

  • A new Consumer Panel Survey reveals that while alternative channels have captured many food dollars, consumers continue to spread their dollars across multiple food retailers. When surveyed as to which of the food stores they frequent is their favorite store, the panel rated the Independent Regional Chain Supermarket as its number once choice, followed by the National Chain Supermarket, and then, in third place, Supercenters.

    "While the National Chain Supermarket outranks the Independent Grocer in both location availability and frequency - shoppers indicate they want more personal attention, and traditionally the Independent Grocer channel has outperformed the National Chains in these areas.

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