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The Crumbling of Cookie Sales For Healthier Foods

An interesting story in USA Today connecting the dots about the cookie industry may explain much of the interest behind trans fat-laden Girl Scout cookies and the reformed eating habits of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster: Cookie sales took a 3.5 percent dive in 2004. In fact, one market research expert predicts a 16 percent decline in cookie sales, that started three years ago, that will likely continue through 2009.

Veteran cookie makers like Wally Amos who created the "Famous Amos" line of fatty baked foods believes the industry's overall product line has gotten boring, but I don't buy that line for a minute. Although this may be hard for some of you to believe, experts have attributed the decline to more health conscious consumers paying much more attention to what they and their families are eating between meals. And that makes great sense to me.

The slippage in cookie sales by the numbers:

  • Private-label brands: 11.4 percent
  • Keebler: 9.2 percent
  • Nabisco: 3.2 percent

Perhaps the most telling number: Kids are eating cookies some 20 percent less than they used to almost a decade ago, according to a consumer research firm.

But the industry is fighting back with an interesting marketing strategy of their own: Smaller is better. Pepperidge Farm, the only big-box cookiemaker whose 2004 sales didn't drop, is spending $35 to develop and launch its Whims line of cookies sold in much smaller containers. Their thinking is certainly shrewd. Eating five smaller cookies may be more profitable than producing one big, thick cookie because many consumers unwisely perceive "smaller" to mean consuming fewer fats and calories and "safer" amounts, so they eat more in the long run.

Just another opportunity for me to remind you eating excessive amounts of grains and refined sugars is the primary reason so many people suffer from excessive weight, fatigue and frequent sleepiness, depression, brain fogginess and bloating.

Another encouraging sign pointed out by some parents in the USA Today piece: Choosing to limit or eliminate cookies from their families' diets was an important way for them set the table for better health habits, and particularly more sensible eating routines.

USA Today April 15, 2005

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