Low-carb craze will fade sooner than later, industry watchers say

March 21, 2004

NEW YORK—The current low-carbohydrate craze may lose its strength sooner than later, according to some food industry analysts.

According to CNN/Money.com, industry watchers believe the "Atkins-friendly hype" will die down before summer, and that makers of higher-carb foods, such as pizza, shouldn't worry much about the trend.

"Keep innovating, but don't ignore your core business," said Sam Rovit, a foodservice consultant with Chicago-based firm Bain &Co. "The astonishing thing about this low-carb craze is the significant number of people who've tried it and then gone back to their earlier eating habits. That's why what I'd say to the pizza chains is, 'Hang in there. People will be eating deep-dish pizzas soon.' "

Rovit said that while low-carb diets have had a significant impact Americans' eating habits, he believes those diets lack compelling reasons to stick to them over a long period of time. Todd Hale, an ACNielsen analyst and senior vice president, agreed. Writing in a report cited in the CNN/Money.com article, "The jury is still out as to whether the low-carb diet has staying power."

Nutritionist Charles Platkin views the low-carb fever as "food déjà vu."

"Here we go again," said Platkin, referring to the low-fat movement of the 1990s. "Restaurants are adding low-carb menus. Food manufacturers like Unilever introduced a whole low-carb line of products. Pepsi Foods has also made a quick turnaround over the last 12 months and has joined the club."

Such changes are misguided, said Platkin, who believes those foods won't be popular two years from now. "I think this low-carb trend in processed food is misguided and more of a hype issue. I expect it will last maybe just another 14 to 16 months."

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