Assault on Salt Inspires New Products and Strategies

Last Updated Nov 11, 2009 12:46 PM EST

As sodium becomes almost as feared and demonized as high-fructose corn syrup or even trans fats, some companies are stepping up their efforts to reduce the salt-content of various products, while others are developing sodium substitutes akin to NutraSweet and Splenda. The idea isn't new, but the trend has taken on a renewed fervor lately, as studies have come out showing that typical Americans consume double their daily recommended daily allowance of sodium.

Bon Vivant International just launched NutraSalt 66, which has 66 percent less sodium than regular salt. Danisco has had salt substitute products for years now, but it has a new one now, SaltPro. And Cargill has SaltWise.

ConAgra Foods (CAG) made a pledge last month to reduce salt 20 percent in its entire portfolio by 2015, echoing a similar pledge by Unilever (UL) earlier this year.

Restaurants, however, are having a harder time participating in this salt attack. Burger King (BKC) promised a year ago to reduce the sodium content of its kids meals, but other quick-service restaurants have been slow to follow. Part of it is that salt helps preserve food that is increasingly sourced from all over the world, necessitating more time spent in transport. But another part of it, restaurant experts admit, is that people simply like the taste of salt.

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