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ADA survey shows more Americans paying attention to exercise, healthy eating

BY DSN STAFF

CHICAGO The American Dietetic Association this week released a report called “Nutrition and You: Trends 2008” that shows Americans, on average, are paying more attention to their eating and exercise habits.

The survey questioned 783 men and women nationwide and asked questions about how often they exercised and what measures they took to maintain a healthful diet. 

Many respondents (43 percent)  said that they already practiced a healthy lifestyle, up from about 38 percent in 2002. Those who said they are aware of the steps they should take in order to maintain a healthy active lifestyle comprised 38 percent, up from 30 percent in 2002. And the percentage of respondents who said that they just don’t care or won’t make the effort to practice good eating and exercise habits totaled 19 percent—down from 32 percent in 2002. 

The survey also showed that about 56 percent are purposefully consuming more whole grains. Fifty percent said they are eating more vegetables, while 41 percent said they are eating less beef, 23 percent reported eating less dairy, and 33 percent said they have reduced the amount of pork that they consume.

According to ADA’s survey, approximately three in five consumers said diet, nutrition and physical activity are “very important” to them personally. Women were more likely than men to say both are very important and younger adults were much less likely than older people to consider diet and nutrition “very important,” while exercise and physical activity were seen as very important by all age groups.

ADA’s survey was conducted by Mintel International between Feb. 15 and March 7, 2008 and included telephone interviews with 783 respondents 18 or older.

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Food manufacturers shrink product containers instead of raising prices

BY Melissa Valliant

LONDON If your jar of Skippy seemed to dissipate a bit faster than usual and your weekly peanut butter sandwich intake hasn’t faced any major increases, you’re not crazy. Skippy, as well as various other food product manufacturers, has cut back its container size and weight while still maintaining the original look of the packaging.

The bottoms of Skippy jars now contain an inconspicuous dimple that accounts for a 10 percent decrease in peanut butter, and many shopper are feeling deceived into believing they are purchasing the same amount of peanut butter for the same price as the old. The jar, once 18 ounces and now 16.3, is the result of what Skippy and other manufacturers are saying is the only solution to the rising food and gas prices.

Unilever, which produces Skippy, also manufactures Breyers ice cream and has similarly cut back on the amount of its product per package. What used to be a container 1.75 quarts full of ice cream has now been reduced to 1.5, and competitor Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream did the same. Ice cream makers had been facing skyrocketing costs in milk, cocoa, sweeteners and energy. “We looked at raising prices to cover these costs, but at some point it just doesn’t make sense to raise prices too high … The ongoing feedback from our customers it that they aren’t ready to pay $7 or more for a carton of ice cream.

Though this change in weight is stated on the product, it oftentimes goes unnoticed because the packaging looks the same and shoppers don’t realize anything is different about the product. Manufacturers are making very subtle changes, thus creating “the illusion that you are buying the same amount,” explained Frank Luby, a pricing consultant with Simon-Kucher & Partners of Cambridge, Mass. Kellogg Co. has cut back on the weight of its Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops and Honey Smacks. Dial has eliminated .5 ounces of its soap but maintained the package’s size to appear the same as its old product. Quilted Northern has cut half an inch off the width of its Ultra Plush toilet paper, and a Hershey’s chocolate bar is now 6.8 ounces from 8 ounces.

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Michael Season’s releases fat-free, all-natural reduced cheese puffs, pops and curls

BY Melissa Valliant

ADDISON, Ill. Many food manufacturers are attempting to find a happy medium between tasty and healthy, and Michael Season’s Feel Good Snacking brand aims for just that—in the form of cheese curls, no less.

Michael Season’s two new flavors of baked cheese puffs, baked white cheddar cheese pops and baked hot chili pepper cheese curls, are now available nationwide.

Both products contain completely all-natural products and have absolutely no additives, MSG, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, preservatives, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, wheat or gluten. Michael Season’s new baked white cheddar cheese pops are made with real white cheddar and, like the baked hot chili pepper cheese curls, contain half the fat of traditional cheese puffs or curls. Both products are priced at $2.59 per 4-ounce bag.

Michael Season’s released lite cheese puffs in July with 65 percent less fat than the original product. The company has also recently redesigned its baked cheese puffs, curls and pops packaging, adding new “mouth-watering” photos and an updated “Feel Good Snacking” logo.

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