A Nutrient in Need Of a Rebranding

And to think it was just a few short years ago that carbohydrates were our friends. A new AC Nielsen study documents ways in which the craze for low-carb diets is now showing up in sales figures for basic foods. For the 52-week period ending Dec. 27, unit sales volume of instant rice was down 8.2 percent vs. the previous year. There were similar declines for cookies (-5.5 percent), bulk/ packaged rice (-4.9 percent), white bread (-4.7 percent), dry pasta (-4.6 percent) and cereal (-3.6 percent). Also taking a hit were carb-laden drinks, such as regular carbonated soda (-5.9 percent) and refrigerated orange juice (-3.8 percent). At the same time, unit sales were up for many fatty foods, including nuts (+8.8 percent), meat snacks (+7.6 percent), cheese (+4.0 percent) and refrigerated sausage (+3.9 percent). There were slight gains for refrigerated sliced luncheon meat (+1.1 percent) and frankfurters (+0.5 percent). Diet carbonated beverages (+1.0 percent) captured some of the market lost by their corn-syrupy, non-diet counterparts. The ranks of the anti-carb faithful are clearly increasing for now, but plenty of people have given up on the Atkinsesque creed. (One suspects this is not because all of these drop-outs have fully achieved their weight-loss ambitions.) Indeed, as you can see from the chart below, nearly equal numbers of Americans are current carb-avoiders or former carb-avoiders. We’ll await further research to tell us which cohort feels superior to the other.