Hitting the Shelves: By the Beautiful Sea -- June 2008
Sodium is a concern for both U.S. and global consumers. As with other ingredients, sodium consumed in recommended amounts is not an issue; however, excessive sodium intake can directly impact health, particularly blood pressure. Because so many convenience products, particularly shelf-stable meals, soups and sides, contain high-sodium levels, consumers are looking for lower-sodium options to improve health.
Manufacturers are responding to this growing consumer demand in a number of ways. Some are simply offering more products with little or no added sodium. However, simply using less salt often impacts flavor. Growth in the use of sea salt and other gourmet salts has also increased. These salts are generally more potent than traditional table salt; therefore, less salt is usually required. However, the use of these salts does not directly tie to the demand for reduced-sodium products. Growth can also be attributed to the increase in awareness of premium ingredients through such channels as the Food Network.
More recently, manufacturers are using sea salts as a foundation for formulating low-sodium products. Campbell Soup is a primary example of a mainstream company developing mainstream products with sea salt to increase sales of its low-sodium line of soups. This seems to have been a relatively successful reformulation for Campbell and may encourage other manufacturers to incorporate a similar approach into their new low-sodium products.