US food brands take arms against Atkins onslaught

BOSTON: Food brands and trade bodies that are losing popularity in the face of increasing take-up of low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins Diet, are planning a raft of PR initiatives next year as they bid to win back public favour.

Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, a ‘food issues’ think-tank, is to stage an international conference early next year to challenge low-carb dieting claims.

The organisation is also on the hunt for partners to help it draw attention to the alleged dangers of low-carb diets, such as the Atkins plan, which involves eating large amounts of protein foods, such as meat and cheese, but not carbohydrates such as bread and potatoes.

‘The [2004 international] conference is the first step of a campaign to challenge poor science,’ said Oldways manager of food and nutrition strategies Chris Speed.

Italian pasta firm Barilla will co-sponsor the conference, which will be held in Rome in February.

Trade body the US Potato Board is also preparing for a PR push in 2004 (PRWeek, 12 August).

Earlier this year Peter Reinhart, author of Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, called on ‘the nation’s bread leaders [to] create the first strong agenda to change the dialogue and correct misinformation’.

In July the National Bread Leadership Council released the results of a survey revealing that 40 per cent of Americans are eating less bread than they were a year ago.

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