As more Americans are changing life-long habits and heading for healthier snacks, Kraft Foods Inc., the largest U.S. cookie maker with an estimated market share of nearly 40 percent, is caught off guard.
Kraft said softening sales of Oreos and other cookie brands in its Nabisco division were partly responsible for lower third-quarter earnings. It was the first quarterly earnings decline for Kraft since the company went public more than two years ago.
The company conceded that diet-conscious shoppers are seeking more cookie alternatives in the so-called healthy bar category, whose brands now range from Atkins to Nature Valley and Carbolite. A growing awareness of the obesity crisis in the United States, where one of nearly every three Americans is considered overweight, is partly responsible, analysts said.
In a recent report on obesity trends, analysts identified Kraft and Kellogg Co. as among the food makers most at-risk with large portions of their sales tied up in categories that Americans may view as unhealthy.
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