Natural Foods Merchandiser

Atkins' Estate Will Further His Vision

The death of diet guru Robert Atkins won't affect rollout of new food products, a plan to educate natural products retailers about the Atkins diet, or multimillion-dollar research into low-carbohydrate eating plans.

Atkins, a New York City-based cardiologist who popularized a high-protein, low-carbohydrate weight loss plan he said was used by 10 million people in the last 30 years, died April 17 from complications after a fall.

The Atkins empire will continue under the terms of Atkins' will, said Matt Wiant, chief marketing officer for Atkins Nutritionals. The diet doctor's estate will fund the Atkins Foundation, which gives grants to institutions such as Duke University and the Veterans Administration Hospital of Philadelphia to test the efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets. Atkins and his wife gave $3 million to the foundation since its inception in 1999. His will allows at least 10 more years of funding, Wiant said.

Plans to introduce more Atkins food products and supplements will continue, Wiant said. Last year Atkins Nutritionals debuted 30 new food items, and another 30 are slated for this year, Wiant said, including pasta, more ice cream products and more conventional meal options.

"You'll see a continuous stream of innovation in new products for the next five years at least," he said.

Atkins Nutritionals will also continue to court natural products stores. "Our relationship with the naturals channel is critical to our success," Wiant said. "We consider the naturals channel to be our foundation. When people need information [about the diet], they can go to a naturals store and talk to someone."

To further that dialogue, within the next year Atkins Nutritionals will debut videos, brochures and training seminars targeted to naturals retailers, Wiant said.

Vicky Uhland is a Denver-based freelance writer.

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