AVENTURA, Fla. -- The low-carb trend is alive and well, despite arguments from some quarters that it's run out of steam, according to Steve French, managing partner, Natural Marketing Institute.
"A lot of people think low carb is gone and dead," he said during a session at the American Bakers Association Convention here. "It's not dead at all."
About half of American adults say they have used low-carb food and beverages over the past year, according to NMI survey data. That finding indicates the trend has staying power, he said.
"That's a move into consumers understanding more about the types of grains in terms of sustained energy and single versus complex carbs," he said.
It manifests itself in the elimination of items like potatoes or rolls from meals, he added.
"The industry needs to be cognizant on how this affects consumption patterns."
French also said it's too early to tell whether the gluten-free phenomenon will have staying power, as NMI research shows an unusual pattern in its development.
Typically a health trend begins with early adopters, which NMI refers to as the "well beings," the households most engaged in health and wellness, he said. From that group it usually flows into the mainstream.
"But that's not happening with gluten free," he said.
In this category usage is highest among the "fence sitters," a healthy-wannabes, younger consumer segment more likely to have children. That may indicate a connection to concerns about allergies and tolerances, he said. These facts make it harder to predict the course of gluten free.
"So is it a fad diet?" French asked. "The jury is still out on whether it's a fad or a trend."
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