Low-carb products are predicted to generate between $25 to $30 billion in U.S. sales this year, according to the publication LowCarbiz. Interest among consumers remains high, and food manufacturers are developing numerous products to meet this growing market's needs. Of consumers currently on low-carb diets—defined as consuming less than 50g of carbohydrates per day—nearly 50% plan to stay on this diet for more than a year. This continues to fuel consumer demand for new and improved low-carb products.

Using an Internet-based market research testing system, a recent survey captured consumers' opinions in several areas of interest to low-carb food manufacturers. The final sample included survey returns from 2,516 U.S. and 952 Canadian consumers. Here are a few findings.

  • Interest in purchasing low-carb food products amongst consumers is high, with 10% indicating they are “extremely interested,” while 31% are “interested.”

  • Of those surveyed, some 54% claim they do not follow a diet, while 42% loosely follow a diet, and only 4% claim to adhere to a strict diet. Respondents who follow diets are significantly more interested in purchasing low-carb food products than respondents not on diets. However, even 33% of those not on diets are interested, indicating that low-carb foods have broad appeal.

  • Female respondents are significantly more interested than male respondents in purchasing low-carb products (45% versus 37%, respectively, are “interested or extremely interested”).

  • Even those who are underweight and at target weight have interest in purchasing low-carb products. (See chart “Weighing In on Interest.”)

    The top 10 low-carb items desired by consumers include snacks, pasta, cereals, pizza, frozen entrées, cheese, dressings/ sauces, ice cream, cookies and soups. Products less commonly mentioned include candy/chocolate, breakfast bars, protein bars and beer.

    In some cases, interested consumers are not purchasing low-carb products. Food manufacturers may be able to differentiate themselves by offering improvements in some of the areas mentioned. (See chart “Unfulfilled Needs.”)

    The tool used in this study was Consumer Quiz, an Internet-based market research testing system. Results are based on a client-selected screening subset of 100,000+ consumers (90% U.S. and 10% Canada), and results can be received in as quickly as two weeks. This type of feedback often is beneficial in the early product development process, to qualify product ideas using consumer-based direction—before spending development dollars on prototypes.

    Other typical uses of Consumer Quiz include concept screening, attitudes/awareness/usage studies, copy testing, price sensitivity, package design, and name research.

    A follow-up study also will be conducted by Consumer Quiz to gauge ongoing consumer interest levels in the area of low-carb items.

    For more information:

    Griffith Laboratories, Christine Carr

    708-239-2412, ccarr@griffithlabs.com