HOUSTON—In spite of seemingly endless criticism, representatives for the U.S. calorie industry predicted another record-breaking year in 2005, the American Calorie Council announced Monday.
"Magazines, fitness gurus, TV-news anchors—they're always attacking calories and telling Americans to eat less of them," said ACC spokesman Nathan Sorenson. "Well, after many years, we're getting used to bad press. Regardless of what people say, the calorie industry continues to be a major growth industry."
Sorenson said all sectors of the calorie industry—which includes producers of meat, dairy, produce, fish, bread, candy, alcoholic beverages, and some soft drinks—have made optimistic projections for 2005.
"No matter how much the media derides us, consumers keep coming back for more calories," Sorenson said. "They can't live without 'em."
Although calorie-industry officials have been hesitant to release actual numbers, Sorenson said there will be "major consumption" in 2005.
"In 2004, we moved trillions of calories every month, which is exactly what one would expect in a depressed economy," Sorenson said. "If our projections are accurate, we'll be adding another couple trillion to our monthly figures."
Sorenson said there has been an across-the-board increase in caloric consumption, with a marked increase in empty calories.
"Every field has been doing well, but the empty-calorie division is going through the roof," Sorenson said. "Anyone working in high-fructose corn syrup should be proud."
Sorenson acknowledged that, like any industry, the calorie industry goes in cycles.
"Summer is our toughest season, since people tend to eat lightly in the heat," Sorenson said. "Fortunately, we more than make up for it in November. Thanksgiving is like Christmas for us. Christmas isn't too bad, either."
Sorenson said that the calorie industry "took some hits" in the '90s.
"When the surgeon general recommended drinking eight glasses of water a day, that was a dark time for us," Sorenson said. "Drinking water makes people feel full. We're still feeling the effects today."
Calorie-industry pundits said the record-breaking projections are not just pie-in-the-sky optimism.
"Calories is one of the strongest, most reliable growth industries, right up there with real estate and munitions," said Victor Polser, managing editor of Caloric Insider magazine. "When one section of the calorie industry starts lagging, such as bread or pasta, another section, like beef or cheese, picks up the slack. If you ask me, it'd be impossible for this industry to take a crippling hit without a lot of Americans dying."
Despite the patina of invulnerability, the ACC is not content to rest on its laurels. Last week, they rolled out a nationwide cross-media campaign. Within the next month, the ACC will unveil ads featuring the slogans "Calories: It's What's For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, And Between-Meal Snacks," and "Have You Had Your 2,000 Today?"
"We don't need to increase our profits, but we want to show consumers that the calorie industry isn't the monster the press has made it out to be," Sorenson said. "Calorie consumption is a part of every American's daily life, sometimes as many as eight or nine times a day."