Tuesday, September 14, 2010
US low-sodium product launches soar – but consumers go for taste
The US has launched more products claiming low or no sodium than any other country in the past three years, according to a new report from Packaged Facts – but consumers still prioritize good taste.
The US Department of Agriculture has estimated that the average American gets about 4,000mg of sodium a day, well above the recommended daily maximum of 2,300mg. Excessive sodium intake has been linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. And with an estimated 75 percent of sodium in the average US diet coming from packaged foods, industry is already under pressure to reformulate foods to contain less sodium.
However, Packaged Facts claims that reducing sodium intake is not at the top of consumers’ list of priorities for dietary change. The market research organization said that low-sodium is not as important to consumers’ healthy eating agendas as eating more fruit and vegetables, more fiber or limiting saturated fat, sugar and trans fat. Nevertheless, “if good-tasting, lower-sodium options are offered, consumers will buy them,” it said, as consumers are interested in eating healthier foods overall.
Sodium reduction poses many challenges for manufacturers, including functionality as a leavening agent or preservative, as well as consumers’ flavor preference. But there is still huge momentum in the industry to reduce sodium.