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Lower-calorie foods and beverages dramatically boosted revenue at 16 food and beverage companies that account for nearly $100 billion in annual sales

Hudson Institute

Lower-calorie products are driving a disproportionate share of the sales growth for many of the U.S.‘s largest food and beverage companies, according to a newly released Hudson Institute study, Lower-Calorie Foods and Beverages Drive Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation Companies’ Sales Growth.

Commissioned by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), the study analyzed the 2006-2011 U.S. product and sales data of 16 member companies (including Coca-Cola Co., General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Nestle USA, and PepsiCo). Hudson researchers found that lower-calorie products (classified using two different established nutrition standards) accounted for 82 percent of combined sales growth. In all, sales of lower-calorie food and beverages at these companies increased more than $1.25 billion over four times the growth of higher-calorie fare. These companies had combined U.S. annual sales of $97 billion at grocery stores, drug stores and mass merchandisers.

The release of these findings follows an announcement by HWCF that their member companies fulfilled their commitment — to reduce 1.5 trillion calories in food and beverages sold in the U.S. — three years earlier than planned in connection with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America.

“The Hudson study shows that food and beverage companies are making progress in meeting burgeoning consumer demand for lower-calorie products,” says Hank Cardello, director of Hudson Institute’s Obesity Solutions Initiative, who led the study. “There is now a fundamental business reason to do so. The food companies that get this are acting in their shareholders’ best interests not just in consumers’ best interests. A crucial way to accelerate a decline in the national obesity rate is to show food companies where the growth is.”

Hudson researchers examined Nielsen ScanTrack data, which captures sales data on point-of-sales purchases through barcodes, to analyze the dollar sales for the food and beverage products sold by HWCF member companies. ¬†Using information from the package labels and online sources, Hudson then categorized each product as “lower-calorie” or “higher-calorie,” based on specified calorie limits.

The criteria followed guidelines from the Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative and the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordination Center developed for a previous Hudson study. For example, to be considered a lower-calorie item, cereal and snack bars could not exceed 150 calories.

Click here to read a copy of the full report. Infographic Lower Calorie Foods Drive Sales may found here.

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