updated 6/2/2004 6:01:02 PM ET 2004-06-02T22:01:02

Kraft Foods Inc. has abandoned its plan to reduce some portion sizes, citing consumer research that shows shoppers prefer to have the choice of whether to go with smaller packages.

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The nation's largest food company disclosed the decision in a progress report on the anti-obesity initiatives it announced last July. With the food industry facing growing consumer health concerns and the risk of obesity lawsuits, Kraft had pledged to change some product recipes, reduce portions in some single-serve packages, quit marketing snacks via giveaways at school and encourage healthier lifestyles.

"When we spoke with consumers about what they wanted with single-serve, what they told us was that they didn't want us to reduce the size because they wanted to have more choice," Kraft spokeswoman Kris Charles said Wednesday. "Different people have different body sizes and activity levels, and it made more sense to provide different portion choices."

Kraft said it would offer a broad range of portion-size choices, including snacks in small packages such as its new Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs. It also said it will give nutrition information for entire packages, rather than just for individual portions, "so consumers don't have to do the math themselves."

That move, Kraft said, should support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent call for food companies to enhance labeling on packages in a way that helps consumers make informed choices.

The company also said it has reduced the fat content and made other changes to about 200 products it sells in North America. That accounts for about 5 percent of its products, and Kraft called it "just a beginning."

"Our ongoing actions are part of a broader societal response to growing health and wellness concerns, including obesity," CEO Roger Deromedi said. "It's going to take a comprehensive approach that involves many sectors of society to truly accelerate the change that's needed. We're ready, as are many other food companies, to collaborate and cooperate with governments, policy experts, industries and communities around the world."

Kraft shares rose 15 cents to close at $30.05 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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