Low salt products in decline

THE NUMBER of products with low or no salt claims has declined in recent years.


Despite increased awareness about the risks of too much sodium in consumers’ diets and pledges from governments around the world to reduce salt levels in food, launches of products with “low”, “no” or “reduced” sodium claims has declined 5% over the 2010-11 period. In fact, such claims appeared on just 2% of all food launches last year.


The findings come in new research by Mintel. Global food and drink analyst at Mintel Chris Brockman said manufacturers were struggling to find workable salt substitutes.


“Efforts are being made to offer consumers alternatives to sodium. However, existing salt replacements have not caught the imagination of consumers. Consumers are concerned about salt intake, but are not willing to compromise on taste.”


The findings come just a few weeks after food manufacturers suggested that they are approaching “the limit of what’s possible” in terms of removing salt from their products.


Mintel also looked at consumer attitudes to salt. When it comes to products flavored with a non-sodium or salt alternative, almost half (46%) of consumers in the US think that they don’t taste as good as their traditional counterparts. Similarly in the UK, only a relatively small proportion (22%) of consumers have purchased low salt products, and just 4% of consumers have cut back on table sauces because of health concerns.


It was a similar story for calories: 49% of British consumers agreed that “taste is more important to me than calories in food”. This supports the findings of other reports.


“Brands will need to dispel the widely held perception about low sodium or salt alternatives to be successful,” said Brockman.


Many food brands are already introducing step-by-step salt reduction programs that gradually reduce the salt content of their products – a strategy often called “stealth health”.


Three new salt pledges were also recently added to the Public Health Responsibility Deal in a bid to reduce the nation’s high salt intake.