|Can the Slim Fast meal replacement diet plan help you lose weight? Take our Top 60 Diet Profile to find out if convenient shakes and nutrition bars and a do-it-yourself method is the best diet for you. Our comprehensive diet analysis examines your lifestyle and dieting preferences, and compares your needs to the Slim Fast diet as well as other popular diets. Then BestDietForMe.com provides you with unbiased, in-depth reports on your matches, complete with detailed reviews of diets like Slim Fast, to help you choose a diet that’s right for you…|
Meal Replacements: Shakes & Bars
Summary & Comment
"Meal replacements" are basically either one of two things: a liquid shake (powder mixed with water, milk, or fruit juice), or a filling nutrition bar. These are products consumers may buy from retail stores, mail order or multi-level marketing distributors. They are non-prescription do-it-yourself quick weight loss products that have been around a long time and which in recent years have been marketed by an increasing number of food manufacturers.
These shakes and bars are usually used as a substitute for one or a maximum of two meals per day (usually breakfast and lunch). You are encouraged to eat one "sensible" meal of regular food per day (dinner) and follow healthy diets. There are lots of brands now on the market and taste varies widely. Some products taste horrible, others are merely palatable, and others taste great. In recent years, most of the new meal replacements that have come out have been nutrition bars—it seems as if everyone is selling them now. The number of shakes brands has not grown as fast, and is still dominated by Slim Fast. However, sales of Slim Fast have been flat or declining the past several years.
Meal replacements are an inexpensive appetite suppressant weight loss option. They are easy to use, and are convenient for time-pressed dieters. However, there is a danger that they may be used inappropriately. Since there is no medical supervision, a person could very easily decide to substitute these products for three meals a day and deprive their body of the calories and nutrients it needs. Consequently, there is really no such thing as structured meal replacement programs, although Slim Fast does provide a very good website with support and lots of useful information and interactive tools. Nevertheless, meal replacements remain popular as a weight loss method.
This is still a cheap, easily accessible partial liquid diet option for many consumers. Past Calorie Control Council surveys found that 17% of all dieting Americans use meal replacements. However, this percentage has fallen recently, as competition from low-carb diets has been strong. Furthermore, there are several fairly large multi-level organizations such as Pharmanex (formerly Nu-Skin International), Herbalife and Shaklee, that sell meal replacements, and you will NOT find these companies’ products in retail stores—only via independent distributors.
Who Uses Meal Replacements?
The Atlanta-based Calorie Control Council's 1993 survey of low-cal food and beverage usage and dieting, reported that 17% of a total 51 million dieters (or 8.7 million) used meal replacement products in early 1993, down sharply from the 31% of dieters in 1991 (16.4 million people). Unfortunately, this analysis of dieting by type method has not been updated by the Council. However, currently BestDietForMe.com/Marketdata estimates that there are 72 million dieters, and the share of all U.S. adults using meal replacements alone is about 5-7% (or 5 million people).
Consumer Reports’ June 2002 survey on diet plans claims that 88% of the most successful dieters did NOT use meal replacement such as Slim-Fast. They also found that 6% of the successful dieters did use dietary supplements or over-the-counter weight loss aids (i.e. Metabolife, etc.). By contrast, Consumer Reports’ 1993 survey found that a much higher 24% of the dieters used meal replacements (second most popular method).
Consequently, it appears that the share of dieters using a meal replacement product has fallen from a high of 24% in the early 1990s to about 5-7% today. Part of the reason for this decline is that over-the-counter diet pills and capsules have become even more popular.
Nutrition bars should continue selling strong, eating into the share of liquid shakes.
Regardless of the doubts over long-term effectiveness of over-the-counter diet products, BestDietForMe.com/Marketdata believes that they will continue to be very popular and sell fairly well, mainly due to human nature. Most people do not have the discipline to stick to long-term weight loss programs, and look for the "quick fix" instead.
Americans today are buying meal replacement shakes/powders and non-prescription and herbal appetite suppressants more often in stores, from infomercials and from companies other than supermarkets (i.e. multi-level marketers, off-price discounters such as Wal-Mart and Price Club), to save money. Meal replacements are not immune however, to fickle consumer attitudes and changing tastes.
Market Status Report
BestDietForMe.com/Marketdata analysts now believe that this do-it-yourself, non-prescription segment of the U.S. weight loss market, namely meal replacements, was a $1.17 billion market in 2006. The value of this market plunged in three years, as more Americans turned to low-carb and weight loss surgeries.
From an analysis of dieting methods reported by BestDietForMe.com visitors taking our survey, it does appear that meal replacements as a dieting option became more popular in 2006, lending support that this market is beginning to rebound.
A lot has taken place in this weight loss industry market segment in recent years:
· The diet pill ingredient ephedra was banned in 2004, prompting reformulation of most products on the market. It was reinstated in 2006, but most companies are not using it and have switched to other substances. Competition in diet pills is intense, with a constant influx of new players.
· The FTC levies a $25 million fine against the marketers of 4 heavily advertised and popular diet pill brands (Cortislim, Xenadrine EFX, TrimSpa, One A Day Weight S,art) – January 2007.
· Metabolife’s assets were purchased by Ideasphere, along with Twinlabs, another troubled competitor. The two brands continue to be sold by the new owner.
· Hoodia Gordonii, an African herb, comes on the scene as a new appetite suppressant supplement. Dozens of companies now sell it, via retail and the Internet.
· The low-carb craze hurt meal replacement sales. Slim-Fast sales continued to drop into 2005-2006, and the market has still not fully recovered. A slight improvement has been noted recently.
As we all know by now, retail stores such as drug stores, supermarkets, and mass merchants are NOT the only places where dieters can obtain meal replacements and OTC diet pills. The multi-level marketing and mail order/infomercial channels are formidable.
Since more than 60% of adult Americans are overweight, the need for meal replacements has never been greater. As millions of people seek to lose weight, such category staples as Slim-Fast Foods Co.’s SlimFast lines have thrived in the past, but are not doing so well in 2003-2004. The category is one of only two in which food/drug combination stores had the top market share, as consumers chose to buy meal replacements in the same place as they purchased food.
OTC weight loss product use is common among women
According to the Healthy Weight Journal (January/February 2002), and JAMA, a survey of 14,679 adults regarding their health behaviors found that the use of non-prescription weight loss products was common, especially among women looking for rapid weight loss. Women were five times more likely than men to use these products, with 7.9% of normal-weight women and 28% of young obese women reporting that they were users during the period between 1996 and 1998. Over 33% of individuals who use prescription weight loss products also reported using non-prescription products. Overall, 7% of the survey respondents reported having used non-prescription products
Slim-Fast Foods Acquisition
The biggest development concerning the meal replacements market has to be the acquisition of privately held Slim Fast Foods Company, the dominant player in this segment of the weight loss market. Slim Fast, based in West Palm Beach, Florida was bought by Unilever for $2.3 billion. Retail sales of Slim-Fast in 2001 were $627 million, but this has fallen substantially to an estimated $267 million in 2004. Slim-Fast at one time controlled at least 45% of the U.S. meal replacements market. With a product line of ready-to-drink nutritional supplements, powders and bars, the company is a major player in the U.S. nutritional-supplement/meal replacement category.
Unilever’s wide array of brands includes Calvin Klein fragrances, Dove soap, Close-Up toothpaste and Q-tips swabs. It also is the world’s largest ice cream company, with brands including Good-Humor, Breyers, Popsicle and Klondike.
Slim Fast was first marketed in 1977 by Thompson Medical Company. The meal replacement powder was the brainchild of S. Daniel Abraham, a former itch-powder salesman. Slim-Fast became a huge hit after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. among other, stocked it.
Slim Fast significantly expands Unilever’s position in the evolving functional-foods sector. These foods, often call nutraceuticals, aim to provide health benefits in addition to nutritional value. The sector is expected to grow both in the U.S. and globally, due to increasing concerns about obesity and health. Slim Fast has been extremely successful since its introduction, being operated by a private entrepreneurial company that maintained complete control. Now, the line is one of many in a large food conglomerate.
Since 1982, there have been more than 50 different brands of appetite suppressant and meal replacement product on the market. Prior to 1989, most were NOT liquid shakes, but in the form of supplements, tablets, gums, lozenges, candies, capsules, and pills.
American drug companies have been quick to capitalize on and promote the public's intense concern with weight loss by stocking local drugstores with prominent displays of quick weight loss products and do-it-yourself diet plans of every type. Over the past few decades, a wide variety of weight loss products has been placed on the market and disappeared, as others have taken their place.
The proliferation of weight-related health problems is why many drug chains are expecting continued success with innovative merchandising presentations in the weight loss category. Rite Aid Corp., for example, has established a boutique-style look in some locations in which diet aids and weight loss products share significant shelf space with vitamins and nutritional supplements. In addition, the use of nutritional supplements as dietary aids has been expanded to a large extent by products that contain chromium picolinate.
Try our Diet Wizard to find out which diet programs are best suited to your specific needs, and which ones will help you keep the weight off.
The information on this web site is intended for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Before starting any weight loss program, it is recommended that you consult your physician or other health care professional.
Copyright © 2012 Marketdata Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.