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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 13:09 GMT
Kellogg's on guard against Atkins
Kellogg's cereal brands
Cereals are mostly high in carbohydrates
Breakfast cereal giant Kellogg's may bow to the demands of a new generation of low-carbohydrate dieters.

Kellogg's chief executive Carlos Gutierrez said the firm was keeping a close eye on how the popular Atkins diet was affecting the cereal market.

"That isn't to say we would begin to deny our science, or change the shape of our total portfolio," he told the BBC's World Business Report.

"But to give consumers a choice, we believe, is the right thing to do."

Slimming down

Followers of the Atkins diet - named after its inventor, Dr Robert Atkins - cut down on carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread and rice in favour of lean meat, fish, and cheese.

We believe that there are consumers who are consciously buying more low-carb products
Carlos Gutierrez
Initially embraced by celebrities, the diet has now been taken up enthusiastically by the mainstream, with sales of Dr Atkins' books now topping the 3 million mark in the UK alone.

The craze for low-carbohydrate eating has had a profound impact on the food industry, denting sales of potatoes and bread, and forcing food giants such as Heinz, Kraft and Anheuser Busch to adapt their products.

A recent US study estimated that the market for reduced-carbohydrate foods is worth $15bn a year.

Mr Gutierrez said Kellogg's had also noted a shift in consumer preferences.

"We believe that there are consumers who are consciously buying more low-carb products," he said.

"We've had customers tell us. So we're staying very close to it."


He added that Kellogg's could adapt to the latest food fashion, even though its iconic breakfast cereals are mostly high in carbohydrates.

"What consumers tend to be looking for is just something that's lower than the average, or lower than what's typical.

"They still do have a certain allowance that they can eat every day."

Mr Gutierrez also said he expected that scientific arguments would in time overcome European resistance to genetically modified crops.

"My feeling is that eventually the science will prevail, and that this is actually a very good thing for consumers and farmers."

Carlos Gutierrez, chief executive, Kellogg's
"Throughout the years there have been different diets and trends."

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