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Italian Foods Rebound from Low Carb Diet: Study

NEW YORK CITY -- The market for Italian food is starting to recover from the impact of the low-carb fad, as Italian food companies begin to respond better to consumer attitudes toward health, convenience and the demand for authentic flavors, according to a new report from market research firm Packaged Facts.

The report, The U.S. Market for Italian Food, also pointed out that the recent changes in the food pyramid -- which now recommends at least three servings of whole-grains a day -- is expected to bolster consumer demand for healthier whole-grain pasta in the future, in spite of lingering fears about consuming too many carbohydrates. At present, healthier whole-grain pastas account for less than 5 percent of total Italian food sales, the new Packaged Facts report advises consumer education and product innovation in this area.

Italian food product sales hit a slump in 2002, when the category experienced a 1.58 percent drop compared to the previous year. In 2003 sales continued to fall, though at a slower rate. But as marketers continue to launch products that offer both health and convenience, the market for Italian foods is expected to continue to grow in the future. Based on the CAGR, retail market sales are expected to grow by $346.45 million from 2004 and touch $13.53 billion by 2009, according to the report.

"There is an anomaly here, though," said Don Montuori, acquisitions editor for Packaged Facts. "While pasta and pasta sauce have performed poorly over the last few years, pizza has not suffered the same fate. In fact, pizzas formed the largest share of the U.S. Italian food market in 2004. In spite of all the diet fads, the market share for pizzas grew consistently since 2000. Consumers will have their pizza, no matter what."

The report provides a detailed performance analysis of the U.S. Italian food market, outlining the key issues and trends affecting the overall market and the different product categories. It identifies major players and brands and analyzes their performance in terms of sales and market share with projections for 2009.
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