In gathering its list of the Top 100 food and beverage companies, Food Engineering, sister publication of Prepared Foods, found the low-carb trend benefited far more than just the purveyors of those diets. Indeed, some of the largest growth rates were found among companies offering products that needed little reformulation to fit with those diets, protein in particular. Tyson Foods (Springdale, Ark.) took advantage of its diversified protein offerings to register a year-on-year sales gain of $1.2 billion. Similarly, Smithfield Foods' (Smithfield, Va.) meat lines propelled the company's sales $1.4 billion over the previous year. Rounding out the protein-rich rush, Swift & Co. (Greeley, Colo.) managed the largest percentage growth among American companies; the beef and pork processor netted a 72.1% jump in sales, although it must be noted that those numbers are based on the company's report listed in May of 2003, long before the true sales impact of December 2003's Mad Cow discovery in Washington.

Internationals already have faced their own Mad Cow tribulations and, unlike the U.S., have little reason to cater to low-carb diets. The latter is exemplified perfectly in the tremendous sales jump for Barilla SpA (Parma, Italy); the pasta maker and winner of Prepared Foods' 2004 Spirit of Innovation Retail Award posted an 84.7% rise in sales, far and away the biggest increase among the Top 100. So, which company lost the most sales? That distinction falls to another international: Snow Brand Milk Products Co. Ltd. (Tokyo), battling scandal and public relations fallout on different fronts, experienced a 52.6% drop in sales--and a plummet from #21 to #91 among the Top 100.