Until now, public health campaigns have focused on cutting sugar and fat, and reducing sodium hasn’t been prioritised to the same degree. But this looks set to change. There are strong indicators that 2022 will be the year sodium reduction emerges as a leading trend in the food industry.
As the pandemic lingers on, keeping consumers focused on their health, and with stronger moves toward regulatory guidance on sodium, awareness of the dangers of excessive sodium will increase.
What are the factors that will drive this momentum? We take a look at some of the top trends shaping sodium reduction in food manufacturing.
1. Clean label ingredients
Consumers want simplicity. This is a key part of delivering a positive experience that consumers will associate with your brand.
More food manufacturers are applying this principle to their product formulation, and this clean label trend is set to increase in 2022.
Many common reduced sodium ingredients must be listed on labels with compound names that sound complicated. The most widely used of these is Monosodium Glutamate and Potassium Chloride, an additive listed as E508 in the EU.
The clean label movement favours simple ingredients. As consumers are put off by terms that sound like they belong in a laboratory, food manufacturers will increasingly look for alternatives. Natural sea salts like SALTWELL® can be listed simply as “sea salt” or “salt” on ingredient labels – enabling brands to present the clear, user-friendly pack that consumers value.
2. Saying No to Nitrite
Sodium nitrite has been a staple ingredient in food manufacturing throughout the 20th century. Considered a key ingredient in cured meats, it’s blended with common salt to create curing salt. In processed meats, curing salt is responsible for creating the bright red and pink colouring of preserved meats.
In recent years, reporting about the potential health risks of nitrites has emerged. While research about a link between nitrites and cancer has been mixed, the doubts around nitrite safety have remained a concern for consumers. Many ranges of processed meat now proudly declare themselves to be “nitrite free.” Bacon, sausages, and ham labelled as nitrite free are all growing in popularity as premium options for consumers looking for healthier choices.
3. New Standards Becoming the Norm
In 2021, both the WHO and the FDA released sodium guidance for food manufacturers. In 2022, these new targets will begin to embed into manufacturing best practice, moving the parameters of what we consider “normal” sodium levels.
The World Health Organization published ambitious new sodium benchmarks in May of 2021. With most people consuming double the WHO’s recommended daily sodium allowance, the benchmarks are part of efforts to reduce global sodium consumption by 30% by 2025.
In October, the FDA released its long-awaited sodium reduction guidelines. This landmark occasion was seen by many as a clear sign that sodium has been accepted by regulators as a serious threat to public health. The FDA sets out a 2.5-year window in which manufacturers can take action to align with the new targets, and 2022 is sure to see many in the food industry begin the work of reformulating their products.
4. Clear Front of Pack Labelling
Both consumers and regulators are demanding clearer nutritional labelling. This trend goes hand in hand with the simplicity trend. From a consumer standpoint, clarity and simplicity are increasingly valued as the hectic pace of modern life means shoppers need to make purchasing decisions quickly.
Clear, bold nutritional labelling systems like “traffic lights” and NutriScore are empowering consumers with the information they need to make smarter choices. This also means food manufacturers have no place to hide unhealthy levels of sodium.
The push for better front of pack appeal will continue to drive food manufacturers to reduce the sodium in their products.
5. Healthier Choices in Own Brand Ranges
Shoppers have embraced own brand products in greater numbers than ever before. Supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl have led the way in developing successful in-house brands that offer consumers quality at a fraction of the price of big brands.
From ready-meals to sauces and snacks, and fresh meats and desserts – supermarket shoppers are discovering that own brand products can be just as good as branded ones. Some shoppers are even finding personal favourites among own-label options.
As retailers are taking on brand-name products, they need to compete on all fronts. That means not only offering a lower price but offering the better-for-you options that their shoppers want.
In 2022, look for a continuing shift towards healthier options in own brand products – including reduced sodium levels.
As trends in the food industry may come and go, some things remain the same.
Consumers want healthier choices with simple ingredients they trust. And of course, they want better-for-you products that don’t compromise on flavour!
SALTWELL® delivers pure and simple clean label sodium reduction. As a completely natural ingredient, it offers manufacturers an easy way to reduce sodium in processed foods by 35% – without sacrificing taste or function.
Whether you’re developing new products, or reformulating to meet updated targets, a simple 1:1 replacement for regular salt with SALTWELL® is a smart solution to reducing sodium.