The popularity of low-carbohydrate diets persists unabated, as numerous fast-food chains and even convenience stores join the groundswell of companies dropping carb levels.

Monterey Pasta Company (Salinas, Calif.), the latest to enter the fray, has launched the Carb-Smart line. Carb-Smart is a line of fresh pastas, sauces and prepared entrées. Each product in this eight-item line boasts half the carbohydrates of traditional pastas.

Included in the line are three ravioli varieties—spinach ricotta, four cheese & chive, and seafood—spinach & cheese tortelloni, classic egg linguine and classic egg fettuccine.

“Americans love fresh pasta, but the current wave of low-carb diets has many consumers watching the amount of carbohydrates they consume,” said Jim Williams, Monterey Pasta's president and CEO. “Carb-Smart responds to that trend by delivering the flavor and convenience of traditional fresh pasta, but with half the carbs.”

In a dramatic shift in U.S. culture and culinary tastes, tortillas are primed to surpass white bread as the top-selling bread in the country by the end of this decade. Sales of the versatile product have been growing 10% annually, and the Tortilla Industry Association (Eagan, Minn.) estimates sales will grow to $6.1 billion this year, doubling the size of the industry since 1996.

The association notes that tortillas hold 32% of the bread market, just behind the 34% share of white bread. Furthermore, the two are heading in opposite directions. Sales of white bread dipped 0.6% in 2002 from 2001, while tortilla sales jumped 11%, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI—Chicago).

As the Atkins and other low-carb diets continue to gain popularity, many consumers have turned to low-carb versions of tortillas. One tortilla company reduces its carbs to 3g by preparing the tortilla with oat fiber, soy flour and whole wheat flour.