BOULDER, Colo. -- Retailers are helping consumers locate items that fit into their low-carb diets through new signs, shelf-talkers and, in some cases, informational brochures.
For example, Wild Oats Natural Marketplace here has adopted the logo "Counting Carbs the Natural Way," which the retailer is positioning on shelves containing products that are low in carbohydrates. "Looking for an easy way to count your carbs? We've got signs all over the store next to select items that contain less than 10 net carbs per serving," reads a statement on the company's Web site. Wild Oats also offers an online sample shopping list of the store's most popular low-carb items, including trail mix, decaf coffee, canned beans and frozen turkey burgers.
With low-carb diets so explosively popular, retailers have been quick to cast themselves through advertisements and store circulars as shopping destinations. Yet, some have been careful to add disclaimers, such as one issued by Wild Oats, also on its Web site: "This list is provided for consumer reference only, and does not constitute an endorsement by Wild Oats Markets Inc. of a low-carbohydrate diet."
"We launched the program in response to growing customer demand for all-natural, controlled-carb options," Tracy Spencer, communications manager at Wild Oats, told SN. "We believe that the initiative is still consistent with our mission of promoting health and well-being. A controlled-carb diet has been successful for many people who have weight loss as an objective as part of their healthy lifestyle. We're not necessarily promoting a controlled-carb diet, but we are promoting the fact that we believe that a balanced blend of good nutrition and physical fitness is the best solution."
Because the term "low carb" has not been officially defined as yet, the grocer is avoiding usage of that term, Spencer said. Instead, signs are meant to indicate that an item has 10 net grams or less of carbs. A brochure is also in the works that will break out products under 20 grams, 10 grams and even 5 grams. Meanwhile, signs appear all over the store, from the meat and deli departments to the bulk items in the grocery area.
"It's a really, really comprehensive program," Spencer said.
Montvale, N.J.-based A&P is also jumping on the bandwagon, featuring the catchphrase "There's no carb like a low-carb" on a page in one of its recent in-store circulars. Two shades of purple were this retailer's color of choice for "low-carb" shelf tags that denote the proper dietary choices among the grocery aisles.
In addition to its "Carbconscious, for low-carb lifestyles" shelf-tag symbol, Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine, has also released a Carbconscious brochure to help shoppers quickly identify what products contain less than 10 net grams of carbohydrates per serving.
Likewise, Wegmans, Rochester, N.Y., has begun offering shoppers a written guide to certain foods. This guide is broken down into two groups: low-carb, which points to foods that have 5 net grams of carbohydrates or less; and Better Carb/Better Fat, which points out foods that are acceptable for those following the South Beach diet.
"Our leaflet is not a 'how to' but rather a 'where to find' guide. There is no single right way to eat," said Mary Ellen Burris, vice president of consumer affairs at Wegmans, in a column on the retailer's Web site.
At Piggly Wiggly supermarkets, Sheboygan, Wis., customers are finding new shelf tags identifying low-carb alternatives containing 5 grams or less of carbohydrate per serving.
Piggly Wiggly stores already carry more than 600 products that fit the low-carb category, and new products will be added to the company's corporate stores as they become available, officials said. Everything from chocolate candy to cereal to beer can be purchased in a low-carb version.
"Major industry giants are creating products to supplement successful product lines," said Mary McLaughlin, the retailer's vice president of grocery category planning. "They too are reacting to the public demand."