How Supermarkets Are Shaping Up and Growing Their Lower-Calorie Products

Father shopping for onions in a supermarket with his son.

Supermarket sales of lower-calorie foods and beverages grew more quickly between 2009 and 2013 than did sales for higher-calorie products.


The Issue

Over $638 billion is spent in supermarkets annually, giving them a major role in displaying and marketing foods and beverages. This report examined supermarket sales of lower-calorie items, to determine whether they were capitalizing on consumer trends in demand for these items. It also looked at sales in food deserts, and sales of the foods and beverages that contribute the most calories to young people's diets.

Key Findings

  • Supermarket sales of lower-calorie foods and beverages are growing faster than higher-calorie options.
  • Lower-calorie product sales in supermarkets command a higher percentage of total sales than they do for either food and beverage companies or restaurants.
  • Higher-calorie versions make up the overwhelming proportion of sales of products contributing the most calories to children and adolescents, and are growing at a faster clip.
  • Despite growing faster than higher-calorie items, lower-calorie product share of total sales under-performs in food deserts, compared to supermarkets located outside food deserts.


Supermarkets are gaining the majority of their food and beverage sales growth from lower-calorie products, but there is still the opportunity to grow even more. They also need to place greater focus on lower-calorie versions of products contributing the most calories to the diets of children and adolescents.

About the Grantee

Hudson Institute is a nonpartisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis. The mission of its Obesity Solutions Initiative is to bring about practical, market-oriented solutions to the world's overweight and obesity epidemic. Founded in 1961, Hudson has celebrated a half century of forging ideas that promote security, prosperity, and freedom.