Supermarket shelves have long been stocked with diet foods, so what makes formulating for weight management different now?
Partly, it’s the discussion of energy balance pushed forward by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. “The conversation is moving away from gimmicks and focusing on balancing food energy consumed with food energy expended,” said Brock Lundberg, vice-president of technology, Fiberstar, River Falls, WI.
And partly, it’s the availability of ingredients backed by sound clinical science. Joseph O’Neill, executive vice-president of sales and marketing, BENEO, Inc., Morris Plains, NJ, explained, “With increasing information and sophistication, more and more consumers — and thus manufacturers — are not only looking for products that claim health benefits like weight control, they want those benefits to be supported by rigorous scientific proof.”
Foods offered for weight management must fulfill their promises, or else the whole category will suffer, according to Rhonda Witwer, senior business development manager, nutrition, National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, NJ. “If consumers can feel the difference after consuming a particular food, the future for that food will be very bright.”
Others pointed to the need for clear, consumer-friendly labels and foods that taste good. But such choices must also be affordable to consumer and manufacturer alike. “The largest challenge will be finding lower calorie formulas that work while controlling costs,” observed Mr. Lundberg.