Interest in diet foods gets slimmer

Despite New Year resolutions it seems not everyone will be adding diet foods to their shopping list.

The latest research from Mintel reveals some 60% of British consumers say they prefer food that is naturally low in fat or calories and two thirds (63%) of consumers who have dieted over the past three years have done so using reduced calorie foods.

However, just over a quarter (27%) of consumers do not find low-calorie foods as filling and a further quarter (27%) claim they end up eating more of them as a result.

Portion size is another concern for consumers buying diet foods, with almost three quarters of consumers (73%) claiming smaller pack sizes are often more expensive per unit.

Instead, two fifths (41%) of consumers, prefer to eat smaller portions of regular food items to exercise their own portion control while continuing to eat the same regular food items they enjoy.

Furthermore, while 38% consumers say low-fat food has improved in taste and quality recently, over half (54%) consumers claim to be more interested in taste than calorie or fat content.

Vivianne Ihekweazu, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, said: “While manufacturers have been active in developing new product lines, consumers still take issue with the taste of many reduced calorie food items, and also feel that portion sizes of low-calorie foods leave them feeling hungry, leading them to overeat. The recent response from industry to this has seen a raft of new product launches that promise to keep consumers feeling full for longer.”

Mintel’s research also reveals that the top five reasons for dieting are: ‘to lose weight’ with 89% of consumers stating this as the motivating factor, followed by ‘to be more healthy’ (50%), ‘to make myself more attractive’ (31%), ‘to control my cholesterol level’ (27%) and ‘to maintain weight’ (17%). A further 14% Brits say they have started a diet to control their blood sugar levels and 3% because of a food allergy or intolerance.

A sceptical 48% of consumers also feel that low-fat foods are not as healthy as they seem and 44% are concerned about the safety of some of the sweeteners used in diet foods.

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