Low-Carb Diet Spawns New Food Industry, Franchise Emerges

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Orange County, California-When Dr. Atkins died inApril, he barely had time to enjoy how his once-shunned eatingideas have been embraced by at least 12 million people in theUnited States and how a new food industry has sprung up around thediet: grocery stores, food manufacturers and restaurants dedicatedto low-carb foods.

"This is part of a larger trend where people are moreinterested in better-for-you products," said Michael Diegel,director of communications for the Grocery Manufacturers of Americain Washington, DC. "It is among the fastest-growing categorieswe have in foods."

Sales of better-for-you products-which include low-carbfoods-increased by $400 million to $5.9 billion in 2002,according to a study done by the Grocery Manufacturers.

Sales were down until 2001, Diegel said, when obesity awarenessand attention to diets increased sales by $100 million to $5.5billion.

Rick Schott's own weight loss prompted him to leave hiscell-phone retail business and open Castus Low Carb Superstores inNorthern California in 1999. Additional stores will be franchises,Schott said, who plans to open 200 stores by the end of next year.-Orange County Register

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