Mintel: Products with low/no/reduced sodium claims on decline

CHICAGO — It seems that the number of products touting low/no/reduced sodium claims have declined over the past few years, despite the increased awareness about risks of over-consumption.

New Mintel research found that globally, launches of foods with low/no/reduced sodium claims declined 5% over the 2010-2011 period, appearing on just 2% of total food launches in 2011. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database, North America had a 26% new product launches carrying low/no/reduced sodium claims in 2011, compared with 32% in 2010 and 28% in 2007. This compared with Europe, which had 35% of new product launches carrying these claims, and Asia-Pacific, which came in third with 19%.

Mintel also found that about 54% of U.S. consumers said they limit their use of packaged snacks and other packaged foods because they think they have too much salt or sodium, while 53% said they are concerned about the amount of salt or sodium in their diets. However, it seems consumers will not give up salt easily. In the United States, for instance, 60% of restaurant diners typically order what they want instead of what is healthy. Moreover, when it comes to products flavored with a nonsodium or salt alternative, almost half (46%) of consumers in the U.S. think that they don't taste as good as their traditional counterparts.

"A large percentage of the global food industry remains wary of the commercial impacts of reducing salt in their products," Mintel global food and drink analyst Chris Brockman said. "This anxiety is well-founded, with many products positioned as low sodium forced off the shelves prematurely in recent years due to poor sales. Manufacturers struggled to find workable salt substitutes, forcing many to rapidly pull them from the market. 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."