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Mega-brands have mega influence on dietary behavior

Boston, MA -- Mega-brands, those popular food products that dominate the supermarket shelves and dinner plates of mainstream America, are often under siege by consumer groups because of their ingredients, labeling, and marketing practices. Yet, mega-brands continue to rack up billions of dollars in sales each year. What is the secret to their success? According to James Tillotson, PhD, MBA, professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, "mega-brands maintain their strong grip on our diet because consumers, food companies, and supermarkets are intertwined in a symbiotic relationship that yields great benefits for all three."

In a two-part series in his Business and Nutrition column in Nutrition Today, Tillotson refers to mega-brands as "fortress brands" because of their durability in defending their market share against rivals. He explains how these products maintain their strong foothold in the market despite often being at odds with the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans with respect to sugars, fats, salt, calories, and lack of fiber. "In spite of a deluge of popular press coverage in recent years about pros and cons of following the Dietary Guideline recommendations, consumer surveys continue to report that taste still trumps all other rationales in motivating food purchases by catering to our strong liking for sweets, fats and oils, and salt," Tillotson writes.

Tillotson describes the role that supermarkets play in perpetuating the dominance of mega-brands in consumers' diets. "In the razor-thin profit business of supermarkets," says Tillotson, "profitability depends on high sales per unit of shelf space. With a finite amount of shelf space and thousands of brands available, the chains favor the strongly consumer-wanted, high-volume selling products." Tillotson also points out that, "it is more efficient to stock one or two mega-brands with their high sales velocity off the shelf than a number of lesser br
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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University
17-Apr-2006


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