Speaking at the IFT show in Chicago last week, Mintel’s trends and innovation director, David Jago, said that reduced salt products accounted for just 1% of new products launched in Europe last year. At least when it comes to products making reduced salt claims, the trend is “low and flat”.
“This reflects what industry is doing to some extent but doesn’t tell the whole story of companies doing covert reduction, reducing sodium without mentioning it on the front of the package,” he said.
Jago said the idea of reducing salt incrementally over several years was welcomed by consumers, who tend to think that food companies are looking out for their health by gradually cutting the salt content of their favourite products.
“The focus isn’t going to go away on covert reduction,” he said. “…For most consumers, less salt and less sugar means less taste and less pleasure.”
Meanwhile, the global market for salt reduction ingredients, like amino acids, yeast extracts and mineral salts, is set to reach $1bn by 2018, according to a recent Markets and Markets research report. Europe accounts for 32% of the market, behind North America at 46%, but it is the fastest growing region, the report says. Globally, the salt reduction ingredients market is growing at an average rate of 11% a year.
Many of those products that do highlight salt reduction are now targeted toward those who need to reduce salt the most, particularly mature men, according to Mintel data. However, breakfast cereal is the only category in which the market researcher has seen an increase in the number of products making reduced salt claims.
“Consumers most often try to reduce salt by using less table salt and less salt in cooking,” Jago said – despite most salt in European diets coming from processed foods, like bread and cheese.
Strategies include using herbs and salt-free seasoning mixes to enhance the flavour of foods without using salt.
In addition, a large group of consumers was aiming to reduce dietary sodium by switching to sea salt, he said, due to a misperception that sea salt is lower in sodium than other salt.